Leech Tishman

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) ruled that the word WINEBUD cannot be registered as a trademark for wine.

The decision followed five years of trademark litigation.

Innvopak Systems Pty. Ltd. applied for the Winebud mark in 2009 for “alcoholic beverages except beers.”

Anheuser-Busch, LLC, which makes Budweiser beer, opposed the registration on the grounds of likelihood of consumer confusion and dilution. Anheuser-Busch owns the trademark “Bud” for beer, as well as several Bud-related marks.

Applicant’s Evidence

Innvopak submitted several items of evidence to suggest consumers would not be confused by the Winebud mark, including:

  • Article from Wine Business Monthly, submitted to “establish[] that the term ‘vine bud’ is a recognized term in the field of viticulture.”
  • Definition from an online dictionary, submitted to “show[] that the term ‘wine’ is a common noun of Old English derivation.”
  • Definition from an online dictionary, submitted to “show[] that the term ‘bud’ is a common noun of Old English derivation.”
  • Definition from an online dictionary submitted to “show[] that the term ‘Budweiser’ is the name of a style of lager beer, similar to pilsner, from the city of České Budějovice in Bohemia (Czech Republic), derived from the German name for the town, Budweis.”
  • Name and address listings of seven individuals with the surname “Budweiser” from 411.com, submitted to “establish[] that the term ‘Budweiser’ is a surname.”

Ruling

The TTAB found that although Anheuser-Busch “has never sold wine under its ‘Bud’ mark, the fame of that mark makes it likely that purchasers seeing a similar ‘Bud’ mark on wine would think that [the company] has expanded its product line to include wine.”

The case is Anheuser-Busch, LLC v. Innvopak Systems Pty Ltd.

Takeaway

As this case demonstrates, trying to claim a trademark similar to that of a famous brand is likely to be an expensive, long-drawn-out, and eventually futile endeavor.

About Us

Leech Tishman’s Intellectual Property Group is based in Pasadena, California with a team of highly-regarded legal professionals with prosecution and litigation expertise in the fields of patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.

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Photo Attribution: “Budweis Landwehr Kas” by Unknown – alte Postkarte. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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