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News Briefs for December 17, 2014

December 17, 2014

•Mexcor International Wine and Spirits will have to change the name and packaging of its range of Crown Club whiskies after a federal court jury in Houston validated Diageo’s claim that the Mexcor range confused consumers and infringed upon the Crown Royal brand. Late yesterday, Diageo issued a statement confirming that the jury ruled that Houston-based Mexcor and its holding company, EJMV Investments, was guilty of trademark infringement and unfair competitive practices and, along with changing the names of products like Texas Crown Club and South Carolina Crown Club, Mexcor will also have to pay unspecified damages to Diageo. “We are pleased that the jury agreed with us that Mexcor has been confusing our consumers and diluting the strength of our Crown Royal brand,” said Nicole D’Amato, director and senior counsel, intellectual property, whiskeys for Diageo NA. “We take the protection of our brands and intellectual property extremely seriously and will work diligently to protect them.” At press time, Mexcor hadn’t responded to a request for comment.

•France’s Belvédère SA, owner of the Sobieski vodka brand, has released a turnaround plan to rejuvenate its business, including ambitious growth targets for the U.S. market. In a strategic document issued yesterday, Belvédère said it’s anticipating annual 14%-18% global volume growth for Sobieski from now to 2018 “through a renewed and sustained activation, an acceleration in advertising and promotional investments and the implementation of a more efficient route to market.” Included in that forecast is a target of 22% annual growth for Belvédère’s U.S. business, of which Sobieski comprises the lion’s share. The brand was up 0.5% last year to just under 1 million cases stateside. By 2018, Belvédère expects its U.S. sales to exceed €50 million ($63m). The company recently named former William Grant & Sons executive Nicolas Guillant as managing director, North and Central America and Caribbean.

•Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s Sugarlands Distilling Company is adding to its lineup of moonshine offerings with the release of American Peach, created with TV personality Mark Rogers. Rogers, who appears on the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” program, is the second personality to participate in Sugarlands’ Legends Series, following Jim Tom Hedrick. Sugarlands Shine American Peach ($25 a 750-ml. jar) will roll out in mid-January 2015 at retail in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Minnesota and Florida. American Peach marks the distillery’s first 70-proof moonshine and joins other products including Silver Cloud Tennessee Sour Mash, Jim Tom Hedrick’s Unaged Rye, Appalachian Apple Pie, Blockader’s Blackberry, Butterscotch Gold, Old Fashioned Lemonade and Southern Sweet Tea.

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