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Tag Archives: Cristal

Wineries aren’t the only ones who are silly about trademarks

Regular visitors here will remember the Wine Curmudgeon's pique when Cristalino lost a lawsuit and had to re-do its label because the company that owns Cristal (and which will never be named on the blog) said consumers would be confused when choosing between a $7 Spanish cava and a $200 luxury Champagne.

Sadly, that foolishness is not relegated to the wine business. Apple, which sometimes makes Microsoft seem sweet and lovable, has decided that the term "app store" belongs to Apple (and is engaged in a lawsuit with Microsoft over the term that we can only hope will be Dickensian in length). It has issued a cease and desist letter to a small company that makes software for home servers because the small company has what it calls an app store. Apple's lawyers wrote that "Amahi's use of the title 'App Store' improperly incorporates" Apple's trademark of "app store" and is likely to confuse consumers.

The lesson here? If you're going to open a wine store on the Internet, you'd better find another name for it. Someone, somewhere, has probably trademarked "wine store" and has lawyers willing and eager to start the paperwork on a lawsuit.

Update: The Cristalino lawsuit

What do you call Cristalino, the Spanish sparkling wine, after a federal court judge says that you can't call it Cristalino?

What happens if you run a picture of the old Cristalino bottle, like the one on the left, after a federal court judge says you shouldn't?

Who would have thought that the Wine Curmudgeon needed an attorney to write about $10 wine? But that appears to be the case these days.

Regular visitors will remember that, last August, the company that owns Cristal (and which will never be mentioned on the blog) won a judgement in U.S. federal court in Minneapolis. Cristal's owner said there was evidence that consumers could be confused between the two brands, even though Cristal sells for hundreds of dollars and Cristalino doesn't, and they are rarely on sale in the same location. A federal court judge agreed, and ordered Cristalino to redesign and re-label its bottle, with a disclaimer that says Cristalino isn't affiliated with Cristal or The Company That Will Not be Named.

More, after the jump.

Wine of the week: Cristalino NV

Regular visitors here will notice that there is no picture of Cristalino. Welcome to the wonderful world of American jurisprudence and the foolishness of the wine business.

In August, a federal district court in Minneapolis ruled that Cristalino, which is a much beloved $7 Spanish sparkling wine, infringed on the trademark of Cristal, a Champagne that costs about $200 a bottle and is favored by people who drive Escalades. Or, as the attorneys for Champagne Louis Roederer, the French luxury brand that owns Cristal, wrote: “The Defendants’ use of CRISTALINO on their sparkling wine product is an illegitimate brand extension that trades on the reputation and image of the famous mark, CRISTAL. Consumers likely believe that CRISTALINO sparkling wine is associated with, sponsored by, or is in some way connected with the maker of the prestige champagne CRISTAL.”

Sigh. And people wonder why the Wine Curmudgeon is so cranky. The Champagne business has been in tatters since the recession started, and Roederer decided to spend money on this lawsuit? The judge, in deciding the case, wrote that there was evidence that consumers could be confused, and if my reading of the law is correct, that was enough to decide in Roederer’s favor. It didn’t matter whether Cristal lost sales to Cristalino (which was unclear). Cristalino had to redesign and re-label its bottle, which is now white and includes a disclaimer that says it isn’t affiliated with Roederer or Cristal.

So this is what I’m going to do: Never drink a bottle of Cristal (which isn’t a problem, since I can’t afford it). Never, after this moment, write about or review a Roederer product, which include Roederer and Scharffenberger sparkling wines in California, a half a dozen or so French still wine brands, and the Portuguese Ramos Pinto label. And, of course, welcome Cristalino (purchased) into the 2011 $10 Hall of Fame, because it offers everything Cristal doesn’t — quality and value. And, yes, it would quite nice at Thanksgiving.

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