The Business Litigation Blog

Sixth Circuit Upholds Red Seal as Maker's Mark Trademark

The competitive market has forced liquor distillers to compete not only in the flavor that they make, but also in the aesthetics that their products have. A recent verdict delivered by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upheld that dripping red wax seal used on bottles of Maker’s Mark® Bourbon is protected as a trademark.

Maker’s Mark® had been using the dripping red seal on the bottles since 1953 as a distinction. It was later registered as a trademark in 1985. In 2003, Maker’s Mark® filed a lawsuit against Jose Cuervo tequila alleging trademark infringement.  Jose Cuervo, who had previously used a straight edged seal on the tequila bottles, started using the dripping red wax seal in 2001 as it entered the US markets with a limited production.

Jose Cuervo counterclaimed that the seal is a functional feature of the bottle, and should not be granted as trademark under the US functionality doctrine. However, the judges ruled in favor of Maker’s Mark®, stating that the trademark was being used by the company since 1958 which was now recognized as a distinction among various brands. Moreover, the judges also disagreed to other argument by Jose Cuervo that claimed it would be difficult and costly to design a new mark.

In 2002, Business Week declared the red dripping seal as one of the most recognizable brands in the world. In addition, there were several articles that focused on the unique aesthetic design patented by the bourbon maker. 

For more information on trademark infringement or on this topic, click here.

1 comment for “Sixth Circuit Upholds Red Seal as Maker's Mark Trademark”

  1. rolex replica posted on Tuesday, December 04, 2012 at 3:45:51 AM

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