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Duckhorn, Trinchero Tussle Over Duck Commander Wines

December 27, 2013

Napa-based Duckhorn Wine Company is suing Trinchero Family Estates over the latter’s recently introduced Duck Commander brand of wines, alleging that Duck Commander’s name and motif infringe on the Duckhorn trademark. In a copy of the complaint obtained by SND, Duckhorn says the lawsuit is intended to “prevent further confusion, dilution and reputational and other harm” to the company, which wants Trinchero to cease using the Duck Commander name and images and pay compensatory damages.

SND exclusively reported the launch of the Duck Commander brand—a partnership between Trinchero and the Robertson family of the TV show Duck Dynasty—onOctober 30. The line includes Triple Threat Red Blend, Wood Duck Chardonnay and Miss Priss Pink Moscato, all retailing at $9.99 a bottle and being sold through Wal-Mart (which is also named as a defendant in the suit).

Duckhorn asserts that in early November it met with Trinchero to propose potential alterations to the Duck Commander brand. According to documents provided in the lawsuit, Trinchero responded with a letter from its attorneys stating that Duckhorn’s demands are “overreaching and unsupported.” Among other points, the letter noted a litany of other duck-related trademarks across the beverage alcohol industry, and said that Duck Commander wines are intended to appeal to a different consumer segment than Duckhorn wines, which sell higher up the pricing ladder. Duckhorn rejected those arguments in its complaint, insisting that consumer confusion as to the producer was still a danger to its brand.

“The case for confusion or dilution is compelling and concerning, given that many key U.S. retailers shelve wines alphabetically, meaning that Decoy by Duckhorn, Duck Commander and Duckhorn Vineyards wines could be placed side by side,” Duckhorn said in a statement to SND. “Duck Commander wines are also produced in our hometown of St. Helena (as indicated on their bottle) causing further potential confusion.” The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Trinchero declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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