Diageo claims the packaging of Admiral Nelson  is too similar to its Captain Morgan rum brand

Diageo claims the packaging of Admiral Nelson' is too similar to its Captain Morgan rum brand

Diageo has launched a lawsuit in Canada against Heaven Hill Distilleries, claiming that the packaging for the US group's spiced rum brand Admiral Nelson's is too similar to Captain Morgan.

The Canadian unit of the UK-headquartered group, which filed the suit at Canada's federal court on Wednesday (26 March), said it is taking the action to defend Captain Morgan's “legendary trade dress, label and trade-mark”. Diageo said: “Heaven Hill’s use of blatantly confusing trade dress, including blatantly confusing historical character, in connection with the sales of the Admiral Nelson rum brand is clearly intended to mimic the Captain Morgan brand to trade upon the brand’s goodwill and create consumer confusion.”

Iain Chalmers, Diageo Canada's marketing VP said the company “appreciates healthy competition”. But, he added: “We are strongly opposed to competitors copycatting the label design and character trademark of established brands like Captain Morgan.” 

Kentucky-headquartered spirits group Heaven Hill acquired the global rights to the 35% abv Admiral Nelson's brand from Luxo in 2011. When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for the company declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

Earlier this week, Diageo was hit with a lawsuit in the US over claims by a New York members club that it owns the trademark on 'Explorers Club' - the name of a Johnnie Walker range.

Expert analysis

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