A battle is heating up between two distilleries who market cinnamon flavored whiskey. Sazerac Co., the maker of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, is suing Stout Brewing Co. over its cinnamon whiskey, Fire Flask.
Fireball Cinnamon Whisky features a red logo with a dancing, fire-breathing demon. Fire Flask also features a red logo, except with a devil and pitchforks. Sazerac Co. has asked a federal court to grant it profits front the sale of Fire Flask and to cancel its pending trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
This is not the first trademark lawsuit filed by Sazerac Co. over its Fireball Cinnamon Whisky brand. In 2012, Sazerac Co. filed a similar lawsuit against Hood River Distillers over its SinFire Cinnamon Whiskey. Much like Fireball and Fire Flask, SinFire used a “fire and brimstone” theme for its labeling in addition to a similar color scheme.
Trademark lawsuits involving breweries and distilleries almost always center on disputes over labeling and bottling designs. Microbreweries also constantly pick legal fights with each other. In January, Lagunitas Brewing Co. filed a trademark lawsuit against Sierra Nevada over allegations of similar labeling and design.
In this case, both Fireball and Fire Flask have red labeling, gold caps and similar demonic-looking creatures on the front of the bottles. Sazerac Co. is concerned customers will not be able to tell the two products apart, which may be a valid concern depending on how its drunk customers are.
Trademarks are how customers identify specific brands. When another business uses similar labeling and symbols, it could potentially hurt sales.
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