10 October 2019TrademarksSaman Javed

California winery sues competitor for trademark infringement

California-based Sutter Home Winery has sued a wholesaler for allegedly using its trademark to advertise a competing wine.

In its complaint, which was filed on October 2 at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Sutter Home said Tri-Vin Imports ( TVI) had been misleading consumers about the origin of its wine.

The dispute concerns Sutter Home’s trademark ‘Napa Cellars’ for “wines derived from grapes grown in Napa Country, California”.

Sutter Home also produces fact sheets for its various wines which provide details concerning the source of the wine grapes, harvest information, winemaking details and winemaker notes.

TVI, a wholesaler of wine that imports and distributes foreign and US-produced wines, also produces its own wine, including the brand Clos de Napa Cellars.

Its wines are advertised to wine distributors throughout the US, including California, where TVI has allegedly contracted three wineries for the production of Clos de Napa Cellars wine.

The filing accuses TVI of advertising its Clos de Napa Cellars wine using Sutter Home’s Napa Cellars trademark, causing confusion among Sutter Home’s consumers and distributors.

In its evidence, Sutter Home said it had been contacted by one of its distributors on October 1 with a request for the Clos de Napa Cellars wine after the distributor saw one of TVI’s advertisements.

The advertisement allegedly uses the ‘Napa Cellars’ trademark to promote the Clos de Napa Cellars brand.

Sutter Home said that upon investigation, it had learned that TVI’s website advertisement of its wine also features links to downloads of the fact sheets for its Napa Cellars wine.

It said the infringement was deliberate because TVI had actively removed the harvest date, release date and case production information from Sutter Home fact sheets.

Sutter Home said TVI was knowingly using its Napa Cellars trademark to mislead consumers and distributors and unfairly compete with its brand.

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