Bridge too far in Absolut maker counterfeit case

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Trademark Supreme court

Sweden-based group Vin and Spirit (V&S) has lost a legal
bid in the country's appeal court to continue using a
former partner's trademark on its wine
labels, following allegations that it
had supplied counterfeit products.

Such a decision, handed down on 26 September, means V&S remains prohibited from using the Golden Gate name on its wine. The company must now pay unspecified financial damages to the Wine Group, which owns the brand. The mark is licensed through the Wine Group's subsidiary Golden State Vintners. V&S, known most famously as the manufacturer of spirit brand Absolut, had hoped to overturn an earlier decision made in the Swedish courts last December that found the company guilty of infringing a license agreement with Golden State Vintners. The Wine Group accused V&S of registering the Golden Gate brand for use on its wine products, without obtaining permission to do so. The company said that the Swedish group had in some cases been using the label on wines that it had not directly supplied. Despite it success in the courts, the Wine Group added that they would continue to seek action against V&S, which the company alleges is still in breach of local legislation on marketing. In a statement the Wine Group claims that even without the word mark, V&S' continued use of the Golden Gate image on some of its wine brands was deceiving Swedish customers over the commercial origin of the product. However, group chief executive officer David Kent said that the court's decision was an important step in protecting both its own and rival brands products internationally from counterfeited goods. "I am astounded that V&S would take such a laissez faire attitude towards the international protection of trademarks and by their wrongful support of such a low standard for consumer confusion regarding trade dress,"​ he stated. "Their actions may regrettably make it more difficult to defend their own Absolut brand from similar knock-off and counterfeit products in the future." ​V&S said it was now considering whether to take its appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court.

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