Diageo Sues Deutsch for Trademark Infringement  

Diageo's Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, KY/Courtesy of Diageo

Diageo North America filed a federal trademark infringement suit against W.J. Deutsch & Sons on Tuesday alleging the bottle shape Deutsch’s Redemption brand bourbon and rye uses is a knock-off of Diageo’s own BULLEIT bourbon and rye.

“This case involves the willful acts of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution by a direct competitor of Diageo who redesigned the bottle and label for a line of its whiskey beverage products in order to knock off the appearance and unfairly trade on the reputation of Diageo’s extremely popular BULLEIT brand bourbon and rye whiskey,” according to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.

Deutsch, meanwhile, produces and sells a competitive line of premium whiskies under the Redemption brand name, the complaint says. The brand name is owned by Kentucky-based Bardstown Barrel Selections LLC, which operates as a subsidiary of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, according to Bloomberg. Bardstown is also named in the complaint.

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Diageo points out in the complaint that for years Redemption whiskies were sold in cylinder-shaped bottles. It was only after BULLEIT’s success, that Deutsch “revised the bottle and label design for Redemption whiskey products to closely mimic the distinctive appearance of Diageo’s Bulleit,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit cites the various sections of the Lanham Act, the federal law that governs trademarks and unfair competition, as well as various state laws. Diageo, which has not specified an amount for damages, is seeking both actual and compensatory damages, disgorgement of profits and attorneys’ fees. 

Deutsch and Bardstown have 30 days to respond to the filing. Neither could be reached for comment.

Published on June 7, 2017
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