Cocktail colossus Diageo is suing Stamford company Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits over the latter’s Redemption brand of whiskey, claiming that it was “revised to closely mimic” the appearance of Diageo’s Bulleit whiskey brand.
The complaint, filed at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that Deutsch “redesigned the bottle and label for a line of its whiskey beverage products in order to knock off the appearance and unfairly trade on the reputation of Diageo’s extremely popular Bulleit brand,” adding that the redesigned packaging is “strikingly similar to that of Diageo’s Bulleit whiskey and copies the same vintage style and appearance.”
According to the suit, Redemption was redesigned from a long narrow cylinder-shaped bottle to a shorter, wider version with curved edges and the brand name above the label. Diageo is claiming that the revision infringes its trademark.
“Defendants engaged in the foregoing conduct in bad faith, with full knowledge of Diageo’s superior rights, and in a deliberate and wilful attempt to infringe Diageo’s rights and to trade on Diageo’s vast goodwill,” according to the suit. Diageo – a British company whose North American headquarters are in Norwalk and whose brands include Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness – said that it had tried to get “defendants to voluntarily cease their infringing activity” but that Deutsch “refused to alter the packaging for the accused products.”
Diageo is seeking injunctive relief, destruction of infringing products, profits, damages and attorneys’ fees.
“Diageo’s lawsuit, linking Bulleit with our award-winning Redemption Whiskey, is devoid of any merit whatsoever,” replied Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits President Tom Steffanci. “The packaging for Redemption was thoughtfully designed to reflect and highlight a lawful trademark and to differentiate this whiskey. We will not only vigorously oppose Diageo’s lawsuit, but we will also continue to defend the integrity of the Redemption brand against any unfair linkage and/or association with Bulleit, or any other competitive product.”
Deutsch was once based in White Plains.