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Bacardi denied UK trademark for Angel’s Envy

Bacardi has lost a trademark battle with absinthe producer La Fée over its Angel’s Envy American whiskey brand in the UK.

Bacardi has lost a trademark battle over the term ‘Angel’s Envy’

Bacardi applied to register the trademark ‘Angel’s Envy’ with the EU Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on 31 March 2015. It was converted to a UK trademark in April 2017. Bacardi acquired the brand in March 2015.

However, Le Fée took legal action, stating that it had registered the term ‘Envy’ in May 2015 to cover spirits and drinks containing absinthe. La Fée produces the NV Absinthe line under the brand name of Envy & NV Spirits.

Bacardi filed a counter-statement in which it denied any similarity between ‘absinthe’ or ‘alcoholic beverages containing absinthe’ in Le Fée’s portfolio and its own products. However the company made “no other comment” on the remaining goods in the class, such as spirits.

La Fee produces the NV Absinthe line under its Envy & NV Spirits brand name

EU IPO documents state the “the contested marks are visually, aurally and conceptually similar to a medium degree”.

While the IPO says that direct confusion is unlikely due to the additional word, it found that there is “likelihood of indirect confusion”, stating that the Angel’s Envy may be considered a sub-brand, or a line extension of NV, such as a new flavour.

Bacardi was subsequently denied the ‘Angel’s Envy’ trademark and was ordered to pay £600 (US$830) to La Fée for costs incurred.

“We note the decision of the UK IPO. We will be appealing the decision as we do not believe that there is any likelihood of even indirect confusion between Angel’s Envy and Envy – the IPO having found that there is no direct confusion – nor is there any prospect of any reasonable consumer being misled,” a Bacardi spokesperson told The Spirits Business.

“Bacardi and La Fee have been involved in various similar registry proceedings in other jurisdictions and Bacardi has recently prevailed for example in both France and Spain. We are therefore confident that we will also prevail in the UK on appeal.” 

The Spirits Business has contacted La Fée for further comment.

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