23 February 2018Trademarks

The Wild Geese delivers spirited response to Bacardi

The Wild Geese has told WIPR that it disputes comments made by Bacardi in relation to the spirit companies’ ongoing trademark feud.

Last week WIPR  reported that the dispute between The Wild Geese and Bacardi goes back to 2014, with the latest developments centring on three open letters the whiskey brand has addressed to Bacardi.

The long-running battle between the spirit companies revolves around The Wild Geese’s logo ‘Untamed’ (US trademark number 87,191,609), registered in international classes 32 and 33, for beverages including beer and spirits. The Untamed brand tells the story of the ‘wild geese’, the name given to the Irish diaspora.

In 2013 Bacardi launched its ‘Bacardi Untameable’ marketing campaign, using it to tell the story of the allegedly “untameable” Bacardi family. It filed to register ‘Bacardi Untameable’ as a trademark in international class 33 for alcoholic beverages.

The Wild Geese filed an opposition with the US Patent and Trademark Office, claiming the campaign misappropriated its ‘Untamed’ mark.

The opposition has been suspended in light of The Wild Geese’s lawsuit against Bacardi for trademark infringement relating to the same ‘Untamed’ mark. The complaint was filed in August 2016 in the US District Court for the Central District of California.

During February 2018 the whiskey company published three open letters to Bacardi, each requesting a response because The Wild Geese has “asked nicely but you didn’t answer”.

Speaking to WIPR a spokesperson for Bacardi said it has constantly prevailed against The Wild Geese’s legal challenges to its ‘Untameable’ trademark. They said the open letters are “clearly issued to attempt to adversely influence the legal process” and “Bacardi will continue to vigorously protect its rights”.

Subsequently a representative for The Wild Geese spoke to WIPR and claimed to be “intrigued” by Bacardi’s comment.

In response to Bacardi’s assertion that it prevailed against legal challenges, The Wild Geese said “Bacardi’s originally successful attempt to move the jurisdiction from California to Miami, their power base, was immediately reversed when the court was made aware of the conflicting statements” made by the spirits company “in order to achieve their aim”.

The spokesperson explained that The Wild Geese is not seeking to adversely influence public opinion but is “merely stating the facts”, which must “make for uncomfortable reading for Bacardi”. They added that the public should decide whether Bacardi’s behaviour in relation to trademarks owned by others is acceptable.

The whiskey company went on to say that “Bacardi demands adherence from others” in respect of US trademark law, yet “seems positively outraged at the idea that the law applies to them also”.

When asked by WIPR to clarify the comments disputed by The Wild Geese, Bacardi declined to comment any further.

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More on this story

16 February 2018   Whiskey maker The Wild Geese has written a third open letter to drinks brand Bacardi, in the latest development of an ongoing dispute between the alcohol companies.
1 March 2018   Whiskey maker The Wild Geese has accused Bacardi of spying on it, in the latest development of a trademark infringement dispute.
24 October 2018   The EU General Court today dismissed a trademark appeal by spirits company Bacardi in a dispute relating to a non-registered mark.