New York micro-distillery in trademark battle

5th March, 2015 by Melita Kiely

Black Dirt Distilling has filed a lawsuit against Netsirk’s The Black Dirt Brewhouse claiming the firm has infringed the distillery’s trademark.

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Black Dirt Distillery claims The Black Dirt Brewhouse is an infringement on its trademark name

Black Dirt Distilling filed the complaint in New York federal court on Monday, arguing that The Black Dirt Brewhouse – situated 10 miles from the New York distillery – could mislead customers to believe the businesses are related due to the names of the restaurant’s speciality drinks.

The distillery has held the trademark since 2012 and produces Black Dirt Bourbon, Black Dirt Single Barrel and Black Dirt Apple Jack.

“We’ve had several – at least six – issues where we’ve had customers or the general public confused about whether we’re involved with the opening of the brew house,” Jeremy Kidde, managing partner of the distillery, told Law360.“We wouldn’t want them serving a ‘Black Dirt Manhattan’ if it has Jack Daniel’s instead of a Black Dirt distillery product.”

Cocktails at the Brewhouse include the Black Dirt 75 made with gin, superfine sugar and topped with Champagne, and the Black Dirt Maple Leaf, made with Bourbon, maple syrup, lemon juice and orange juice.

Kyle Roddey told the news site he has not seen the complaint and therefore could not comment, but stressed The Black Dirt Brewhouse is “working to support local industry and promote the Black Dirt Region while creating 40 local jobs”.

He added: “It would be unfortunate if any other company decides to stymie this exciting new regional business for self-serving reasons.”

However, Kidde said the distillery’s lawyers had been prompted to create a licensing agreement as parts of Hudson Valley in New York and New Jersey are referred to as the Black Dirt Region due to the black soil resultant of glacial occurrences.

“We reached out to the brewhouse and said we don’t want you to shut down or even stop you from using the name, but if you’re going to, we want to license it,” Kidde explained. “We offered this for US$1 a month, and they refused. We’re not exactly sure why.”

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