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Diageo sues Heaven Hill for ‘copycat’ branding

Diageo is taking legal action against Heaven Hill’s Admiral Nelson’s rum alleging the brand “infringes” on its own Captain Morgan trademark.

Admiral-Nelson-rum
Diageo is suing Heaven Hill’s Admiral Nelson’s Spiced Rum for trademark infringement

UK drinks group Diageo filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Canada against US-based Heaven Hill Distilleries, owner of Elijah Craig and Evan Williams Bourbons, on Wednesday 26 March.

The lawsuit claims that its Admiral Nelson’s rum “infringes” on and “dilutes” the Captain Morgan rum trademark.

In a statement, Diageo North America accuses Heaven Hill of “blatantly confusing trade dress”, including its use of a similar historical character in the branding of Admiral Nelson’s rum.

Diageo alleges that this branding is “clearly intended” to mimic that of Captain Morgan in an attempt to “trade upon the brand’s goodwill and create consumer confusion”.Captain-Morgan-rum

“Diageo appreciates healthy competition, as continued innovation maintains consumer excitement and benefits the entire industry,” said Iain Chalmers, vice president of marketing for Diageo Canada.

“However, we are strongly opposed to competitors copycatting the label design and character trademark of established brands like Captain Morgan. We will fight these infringements wherever we can.”

Heaven Hill declined to comment.

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