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Osawa Wines Wins Labeling Dispute Against Chateau Mouton Rothschild Estate for Flying Mouton Label

Recently, Osawa Wines won a labeling dispute against Chateau Mouton Rothschild Estate. The disagreement, which spawned over the use of the wine label Flying Mouton, originated in 2008 when Osawa started producing a new alcohol beverage product with a Flying Mouton wine label. Shortly thereafter, Chateau Mouton Rothschild estate filed a case against Osawa Wines in the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. The case entailed a trademark issue, as Chateau Mouton Rothschild estate alleged that the label used by Osawa Wines resembled a label of Chateau Mouton Rothschild’s brand Mouton Cadet. The company reportedly argued that the Osawa Wine label was likely to “deceive or confuse” consumers in New Zealand, as the French wine estate’s products were well known in the New Zealand market. (See Kiwi Label Wins Wine Clash.)

In addition to its trademark infringement claim, Chateau Mouton Rothschild also directed Osawa Wines to withdraw its trademark application to use the Flying Mouton label in Japan and Australia. In total, Chateau Mouton Rothschild filed nine oppositions to the wine label, all of which were rejected by Jennie Walden, trademark assistant commissioner. 
The director of Osawa Wines, Mark Lim, relayed that the word “Mouton” derives from many disparate objects and instances. “Osawa Wines claimed that its use of the word ‘mouton’ is meant to be a translation of the French word for ‘sheep’ and referenced the vineyard’s origins as a sheep farm. In fact, the wine’s label displays an image of a flying sheep.” (See Château Mouton Rothschild Loses Trademark Fight Against Flying Mouton; see also New Zealand Winery Wins Mouton Trademark Battle.)
Lindsey A. Zahn


Lindsey is the founder and author of On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog. She is an alcohol beverage and food attorney and is admitted to the New York State Bar.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Courtney Holmes December 16, 2012, 2:52 PM

    Wow – that seems like such a bizarre lawsuit. The labels look completely different and Mouton is clearly another name for sheep. Thank goodness I didn’t name my company “Talk is Mouton” ( As opposed to Talk is Sheep) or Chateau Mouton Rothschild might sue me as well! Okay – maybe that is a stretch, but no more broader than their own claim.

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