Sazerac Accuses Hood River Distillers of Infringing its FIRE Trademarks

On February 10, 2012, Sazerac Company, Inc. filed suit against Hood River Distillers, Inc. in Federal Court in Louisville.  Sazerac claims that its trademarks and trade dress relating to its FIREBALL cinnamon whiskey and FIRE WATER cinnamon liqueur are infringed by Hood Rivers’ new SINFIRE cinnamon whiskey.

In order to bolster its claim that consumers are likely to be confused by the SINFUL mark, Sazerac’s Complaint alleges, among other things, as follows:

“[Hood Rivers’ SINFIRE] whisky is golden brown in color and is bottled in a clear flask-like bottle with red and orange flames arising from the bottom of a large black stylized “S.”  The “S” has a curly serpent-like tongue extending from the head of the letter, and a pointed devil’s tail at the lower end of the letter emerging from the flames.  “SINFIRE” is displayed in block font directly under the flames where the word “SIN” is in black and the word “FIRE” in red. The dominant color combination for the product package is black, red, and orange.”

See the full Complaint here.  Without more,  the use of “fire” in SINFIRE is likely not enough to find it confusingly similar to FIRE BALL and/or FIRE WATER, even though it applies to the same type of goods.  This case might therefore provide some interesting insights on the broader scope of a company’s rights as to additional design elements in its trademarks and trade dress.

One response to “Sazerac Accuses Hood River Distillers of Infringing its FIRE Trademarks

  1. Wow, that’s crazy… I mean, whiskey is golden in color, and clear bottles are, well, clear, LOL!

    But then, Kettle Foods got the term trademarked in the UK so companies can’t use the term “kettle cooked” because it infringes on Kettle’s chips/crisps. Likewise, years ago ReaLemon couldn’t get its name trademarked there because it was designated a “descriptor.” I guess it just goes to show that you never know when it comes to the law….

    As a lawyer friend once said to me “what do you call a judge with an IQ of 90? Your Honor.”