Diageo hits Sazerac with Bulleit lawsuit

20th December, 2016 by Annie Hayes

Diageo North America has launched legal action against Sazerac, accusing the firm of infringing the Bulleit Bourbon trademark with the redesign of its liqueur line, Dr. McGillicuddy’s.

Diageo North America has launched legal action against Sazerac

According to reports, the suit claims that Sazerac has committed wilful acts of trademark infringement, unfair competition, trade dress infringement and dilution.

The lawsuit reportedly states that Dr. McGillicuddy’s product line has been redesigned “in order to knock-off the appearance and unfairly trade on the reputation of Diageo’s extremely popular Bulleit brand Bourbon and rye whiskey”.

Within the past year, the lawsuit adds, Sazerac has attempted to “trade on Diageo’s reputation by introducing four different kinds of whiskey” to the Dr. McGillicuddy’s range.

The timing of defendants’ marketing and sale of the accused products is “no coincidence”, said the suit, which is said to add that Sazerac us “well aware of the commercial success” of Bulleit.

“Sazerac’s infringing use of our Bulleit trade dress left us no choice but to sue to protect our legendary brand and marks,” a Diageo spokesperson told The Spirits Business.

Diageo is reportedly seeking a jury trial, injunctive relief, destruction of infringing materials such as labels, a payment of all profits, damages, triple damages for wilful infringement, and costs.

Sazerac declined to comment when approached by The Spirits Business.

Bulleit Bourbon was the fastest-growing brand in Diageo’s portfolio in 2015/16, posting a whopping 29% organic gains. The majority of this uplift came from the US, where Bulleit continues to gain share.

drmcgillicuddys

Dr. McGillicuddy’s product line has recently undergone a redesign

 

 

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