US: Brown-Forman awaits "copycat brand" ruling
A lawyer for the US spirits producer Brown-Forman accused a competitor of deliberately copying the design of its Bourbon brand Woodford Reserve in a federal court yesterday.
The remarks were made in the closing arguments of a lawsuit between Brown-Forman and Barton Inc, which produces Ridgewood Reserve 1792.
Brown-Forman brought a lawsuit against Barton Inc, in federal court last year, claiming that the company deliberately sold Ridgewood Reserve 1792 as a look-a-like brand of Woodford Reserve, which is confusing consumers. The lawsuit said Barton violated the federal Lanham Act, which prohibits unfair competition.
Brown-Forman attorney Steven M. Weinberg said consumers may believe the two brands are from the same company and were related products.
"There's no accident here," Weinberg said. "They wanted the Woodford look. They copied that look."
However, Barton has rejected the claims, saying that it had not infringed on Woodford Reserve's copyright and that there were differences between the brands, including the large "1792" on the Ridgewood bottle, different prices and a different bottle shape.
An attorney for Barton said it would be totally counter-productive to create a copy brand.
A decision is expected soon.
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