Friday, January 25, 2013

If it looks like a duck, sells like a duck ... it's a lawsuit

The battling ducks.
A California winery has filed a lawsuit against a Long Island winery over its name and labels.

The Duckhorn Wine Co. of St. Helena alleges that Duck Walk Vineyards failed to indicate its geographic location on its bottles’ front labels, and that allegedly has led to to consumer confusion, according to the complaint filed Jan. 15 in Napa County (CA) Superior Court.

This is a reprise of a battle that took place in 2003 over naming rights. At that time, the two wineries settled a trademark suit in federal court after Duck Walk agreed to a number of restrictions, including specifying the wine’s place of origin on its front label.

The Long Island winery, owned by Damiani Vineyards, also agreed not to produce and/or bottle more than 84,000 gallons of wine with the word “Duck” or pictures of ducks on the label unless they’re part of the corporate name “Duck Walk Vineyards Inc.”

“They have not honored their agreement,” Henry Bunsow, a San Francisco attorney who represents Duckhorn Wine, said of the 2003 federal settlement.

In response, lawyers for Duck Walk said their client has complied with the rules and that Duckhorn does not own the word “duck.”

“They can sue us all they want. They won’t win,” said Steven Schlesinger, one of Duck Walk’s attorneys. “We just agreed we were Duck Walk,” he said, referring to the federal settlement.

A hearing is scheduled for June 25.

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