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Diageo Claims Win In Bulleit Trademark Case; Deutsch’s Redemption To Stop Selling In Current Packaging, Pending Appeal

November 9, 2022

Diageo-owned Bulleit scored a win in its trademark battle against Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits’ Redemption whiskey brand in federal appellate court in New York yesterday, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a motion by Deutsch that would have allowed Redemption to keep selling in its current packaging pending a larger appeal on the merits of the trademark dispute.

In early September, federal court judge Louis Stanton ruled that Deutsch must stop selling Redemption in its current bottle, “except for the product that on the date of entry of this Order has already been transferred to distributors, retail stores, bars, or restaurants. That product in the Redemption packaging that has been transferred by the date of entry of this Order may continue to be sold, but none thereafter.” Yesterday’s ruling upheld that injunction.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision today—this order means that effective immediately Deutsch must stop marketing or selling any of the Redemption line of whiskies in the packaging that the jury determined diluted Bulleit’s famous trade dress, including its recently launched Redemption Sur Lee product,” Diageo said in a statement to SND. “The ruling is a victory for Diageo and our commitment to protecting our beloved brands.”

“We are disappointed by today’s decision from the Second Circuit, as we believe the Order of Injunction is not supported by the jury verdict, and we have begun the appeal process,” Peter Deutsch, CEO of Deutsch Family told SND. “It’s apparent that the success and potential of Redemption Whiskey was obvious to Diageo, which felt the need to bring this lawsuit to stymie the brand. The jury verdict issued in June 2022 cleared Deutsch Family of allegations of trademark infringement, cleared Deutsch of acting willfully to dilute the Bulleit trademarks, and awarded no monetary damages to Diageo.”

The ruling comes amid a rapid rise in the U.S. market for Redemption, an Impact “Hot Prospect” that was on track to hit 130,000 cases this year, up from 91,000 cases in 2020. Bulleit, a 1.56-million-case brand in the U.S.—which ranks second among all American whiskies retailing above $25 a bottle, according to Impact Databank—grew 1.4% by volume in control states in the year-to-date through September.—Daniel Marsteller

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