Last month, Massachusetts announced the creation of the Treasurer’s Alcohol Task Force, which will create an independent group of professionals to review the state’s legal and regulatory framework of alcohol beverages. See Treasurer Deborah Goldberg Announces Alcohol Task Force. The Task Force will generate an assessment of the current climate and advise on any necessary improvements. E. Macey Russell, Partner at law firm Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP, will chair the group.
Join us June 21st at 1:00 PM ET to 2:00 PM ET for a free webinar on Building Your Practice Through Blogging and Pocasting, courtesy of the ABA Women Rainmakers Division. I will be speaking with Nicole Abboud, Esq., who is the owner of Abboud Media and a podcaster, lawyer, and college professor. She hosts The Gen Why Lawyer Podcast, which is an excellent source of information for lawyers considering opening their own practice and going solo. It is hosted by Carole M. Bass, who is a trusts and estates attorney at Moses & Singer LLP in New York City.
On January 23, 2017, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued a temporary rule (T.D. TTB–147) in the Federal Register that amends the federal regulations for hard cider. The temporary rule amends TTB regulations to implement changes made to the federal definition of “hard cider” in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (IRC) by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. TTB’s modified definition broadens the range of wines that can legally be classified as “hard cider” for excise tax purposes.
As originally reported by the Napa Valley Register, two vineyard “houses” in Napa are currently in disagreement about the use of a similar name. See Lawsuit Claims Confusion Between 2 Napa ‘Vineyard Houses.’ Vineyard House Winery in Oakville is disputing the use of “Vineyard House” by The Napa Vineyard House. On February 1st, The Vineyard House, LLC filed a complaint against Napa Vineyard House, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. See here. The complaint alleges trademark infringement by The Napa Vineyard House. The complaint further alleges that the use of the term “Vineyard House” by The Napa Vineyard House confuses consumers and creates unfair competition, especially considering that the properties are located close to one another.
This summer, I will return to the University of Reims to teach another course on wine law at the Wine & Law Program.
This year, the Program is in its seventh session and will discuss topics related to trademark law and geographical indications for spirits. The course will focus on topics including introduction to wine marketing, the European protection of Geographical Indications, European trademark law, and Australian and U.S. protection of Geographical Indications and Trademarks. The faculty includes Stephen Charters, MW, Silvère Lefevre, Stefan Martin, Stephen Stern, and Theodore Georgopoulos.
Last fall, I traveled to several wine regions in Italy on vacation. I spent some time in the gorgeous Piemonte region, which is home to one of my favorite wines (Barolo). The trip was well planned, as the harvest was timely this year, the quintessential Nebbiolo grapes were at their peak, and it also happened to be the start of truffle season. (The weather was also, thankfully, perfect.) I spent a lot of time visiting vineyards, tasting, and learning more about the region and talking to winemakers to learn more about their craft, history, and profession. Two of my favorite visits from the trip were to Rizieri and Ceretto.
Ram’s Gate Winery, LLC (opposer) filed a notice of opposition against application Serial No. 862692961 before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (The application was filed by Opal Moon Winery, LLC on May 1, 2014 and sought registration on the Principal Register based on applicant’s intent to use the mark in commerce.) Applicant sought to register the mark RAM HORN in standard characters for goods identified as “wine” in International Class 33. See Ram’s Gate Winery, LLC v. Opal Moon Winery, LLC, Opposition No. 91221205 (December 8, 2016) [not precedential]. Opposer claimed there was a likelihood of confusion with three registrations, including Registration No. 4074683 for the mark RAM’S GATE in standard characters for “wine, sparkling wine” in International Class 33. Applicant denied such allegations.
Last year, I represented a client before the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) with respect to petitioning for the addition of a new grape variety for use as a variety on American wine labels. The grape variety, Loureiro, has been used on imported wines from Portugal and Spain. Its use in the United States is expanding, but before our petition was filed, TTB did not recognize the use of “Loureiro” as a grape variety for American wines. It thus could not be approved as a varietal wine. Several U.S. producers were actually very creative with their labels and used the phonetic spelling of Loureiro as their fanciful name (in an attempt to circumnavigate TTB’s regulations with respect to grape varieties).
A recent application before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, 10 Barrel Brewing, LLC sought to register the mark SWILL (in standard characters) for beer in International Class 32 (for beer) on the Principal Register. See In re 10 Barrel Bxrewing, LLC, Serial No. 86190248 (May 31, 2016) [not precedential]. The application for registration was originally refused by the Examining Attorney under Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(d), on the ground that Applicant’s mark resembled the mark SWELL SWILL in standard characters, previously registered for wine in International Class 33, and was likely to cause confusion. Applicant appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (after the refusal was finalized) and requested reconsideration.
Our first Cider Week session event sold our for October 25th, so we added a second event on Saturday, October 29th. Please see below for more information.
On October 29th at 6:00 PM, I will be speaking at Wassail for New York City Cider Week. The event is So You Want To Start Your Own Cidery, where I will discuss the legal elements of applying for a cider license with the New York State Liquor Authority (as well as for a federal license through the TTB). Also present will be Seth Jones, owner of East Hollow Cider and Mead, who will talk about how he became interested in apples and cider as well as discuss his trials and tribulations in obtaining a cidery license.