US/SWEDEN: The Wine Group bullish over V&S spat
The Wine Group has insisted it is "extremely confident" that an appeal from V&S Group over the rights to the Golden Gate wine brand will fail.
The California-based company, the world's third-largest wine producer by volume, has been battling it out with V&S in the Swedish courts over the rights to Golden Gate.
Last week, a court in Sweden ruled that V&S had infringed the trademark rights for the brand and said Golden Gate, the best-selling white wine in Sweden, belongs to Golden State Vintners (GSV), a wine producer bought by The Wine Group in 2004.
V&S has vowed to appeal but Chris Thompson, managing director, Europe for The Wine Group, has dismissed the possibility that the Absolut vodka producer will prevail.
He said V&S had falsely registered the Golden Gate trademark and broken its supply agreement with Golden State Vintners.
"V&S does not have a leg to stand on," Thompson told just-drinks today (16 January). "At first they concocted a totally false story that the brand had been developed internally at V&S, but this story collapsed under court discovery.
"The written agreement clearly stated that V&S could use GSV's Golden Gate brand in exchange for V&S bottling the brand exclusively with GSV supplied wines. I don't know why V&S chose not to honour the agreement, but clearly it was violated when V&S secretly registered the trademark in Sweden."
Thompson said The Wine Group had tried to settle the dispute with V&S three times but was "rebuffed" on each occasion.
The Wine Group is "extremely confident" its rights over the Golden Gate name would be confirmed on appeal, he said.
"This was not a difficult case to decide. We were awarded our attorney costs, I would suspect in large part, because V&S had no evidence to support their somewhat bizarre claim that GSV simply gave away the brand and did not care if authentic Golden Gate wines were used under the trademark or not."
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