Don Q rum maker settles trademark spat over ‘Donq’

4th January, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

Destilería Serrallés, the producer of Don Q rum, has reportedly settled a trademark dispute with a Japanese bakery chain over the use of the term ‘Donq’.

Don Q owner Destilería Serrallés settles a trademark dispute over the word ‘Donq’

Kabushiki Kaisa Donq, which runs a chain of Donq bakeries in Japan, applied in 2011 to register the mark in the US for a wide range of food, beverages and retail services, according to Law360.

However, Destilería Serrallés argued that the name would be confused with its Puerto Rican rum brand Don Q.

On 28 December, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sided with Donq, ruling that the names were similar but that the Don Q brand, a “rum with limited fame” was not sufficiently related to the goods or services for which the Japanese company was seeking to register its mark.

In response, the Puerto Rico-based firm claimed that many spirits brands, such as Maker’s Mark, Johnnie Walker, Jose Cuervo, expanded their offering to include food and retail services under the same name.

But judge George C Pologeorgis ruled that the “well-recognised distillers” the firm mentioned “were far more famous than Don Q”.

“The fact that distillers of major alcohol brands have lent their well-recognised marks to a wide range of products does not mean that all of the products they sell are related,” the judge wrote.

“Opposer has not met its burden of showing that a lesser known distiller in a more limited alcoholic beverage field, primarily known for rum, would normally expand its marginally famous name brand to the goods and services identified in applicant’s involved application, or that purchasers would generally expect such goods and services to emanate from the same source.”

The Spirits Business has contacted Destilería Serrallés for further comment.

In October last year, Destilería Serrallés restarted production following a temporary shutdown caused by Hurricane Maria.

Leave a Reply