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Diageo succeeds in Redemption Whiskey injunction

American whiskey brand Redemption has been forced to stop selling its range immediately, after it failed to get Diageo’s injunction order thrown out.

Redemption Whiskey range
The Redemption Whiskey range, including the new Sur Lee expression

In September, Diageo was granted an injunction to stop the sale of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ Redemption whiskey after it was found to dilute the Bulleit trademark.

The order banned the advertising, promotion and sale of the brand in its current flask-shaped packaging, but it only applied to the future, according to Deutsch, who said distributors and retailers could continue to sell all of their current inventory of Redemption.

Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits filed a motion to suspend the injunction order, but it was denied by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit this week. The company said it has started an appeal process.

The move also means that Redemption’s latest bottling, Sur Lee Straight Whiskey, released in September 2022, cannot be sold in its current design. The new whiskey was inspired by the French sur lie winemaking process.

A Diageo spokesperson said: “We are pleased with the court’s decision – this order means that effective immediately Deutsch must stop marketing or selling any of the Redemption line of whiskeys in the packaging that the jury determined diluted Bulleit’s famous trade dress, including its recently launched Redemption Sur Lee product. The ruling is a victory for Diageo and our commitment to protecting our beloved brands.”

Diageo first sought an injunction in June 2022 to prevent the sale of Redemption Whiskey after a jury said the Bulleit trademark is ‘valid and protectable’, with Deutsch’s Redemption packaging diluting the Diageo-owned bottle.

However, the ruling concluded that Deutsch’s Redemption packaging did not infringe on the Bulleit trademark by creating consumer confusion. The jury also rejected Diageo’s allegation that Deutsch acted in bad faith when designing its Redemption bottle.

Peter Deutsch, CEO of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, said: “We are disappointed by the decision from the Second Circuit, as we believe the Order of Injunction is not supported by the jury verdict, and we have begun the appeal process.

“It’s apparent that the success and potential of Redemption Whiskey was obvious to Diageo, which felt the need to bring this lawsuit to stymie the brand.

“The jury verdict issued in June 2022 cleared Deutsch Family of allegations of trademark infringement, cleared Deutsch of acting wilfully to dilute the Bulleit trademarks and awarded no monetary damages to Diageo.”

Diageo initially sued Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in 2017 over the redesign of Redemption whiskey, claiming the bottle has been ‘revised to closely mimic’ its Bourbon and rye whiskey brand, Bulleit.

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