Diageo in Stitzel-Weller whiskey lawsuit

7th January, 2016 by Amy Hopkins

A lawsuit accusing Diageo North America of infringing a spirits distributor’s right to the ‘Stitzel’ trademark is expected to proceed.

Stitzel-Weller

Diageo’s bid to dismiss a trademark lawsuit over its Stitzel-Weller American whiskey products has been rejected

California-based federal judge James Donato said distributor Allied Lomar’s complaint that Diageo has infringed its ‘Stitzel’ trademark is unlikely to be thrown out of court, reports Law360.

Allied filed a lawsuit against the world’s largest alcoholic drinks group in July 2015, claiming Diageo’s new Blade and Bow Bourbon brand and other products made at its revived Stitzel-Weller distillery breaches trademark law.

Allied said it first registered the Stitzel trademark for distilled spirits in 2004, adding that some distributors are refusing to sell its Stitzel-branded products due to the same name of Diageo’s range.

However, Diageo’s legal representative argued consumer confusion cannot be proved since Allied’s Stitzel products are not sold in the United States.

The group therefore asked the US District Court for the Northern District of California to dismiss the case. But judge Donato said he had received enough information from the plaintiff to be “concerned” and would therefore allow the suit to proceed.

Diageo reopened the historic Louisville-based Stitzel-Weller distillery in 2014 with an investment of more than US$10 million. The site first opened in 1935, but was mothballed in 1992.

The distillery underwent extensive renovation and now houses the Bulleit Frontier Whiskey experience, where Diageo showcases its Bourbon brands, including Bulleit Bourbon and the Orphan Barrel range of whiskeys. It also includes a new bottling line, on-site finishing centre and a small batch craft still.

Launched in May last year, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey “pays homage” to Stitzel-Weller.

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