Golden State Vintners sues Swedish government owned Vin & Sprit for trademark infringement

Ah, Sweden, the land of "piracy", it sure looks like swedes like to play fast and lose with intellectual property and trademarks as of late. Golden State Vintners, Inc is currently busy sending strong messages to Vin&Sprit by filing suit for 9,8 million dollars in damages for trademark infringement.

Setterwalls has details on GSV's earlier victory in Swedish courts (by the way that's the firm that called regarding that Sprite blowjob commercial, small world)

Vin & Sprit have been using the name Golden Gate for almost ten years on white and red US bulk wines. Californian wine producer Golden State Vintners sued Vin & Sprit AB in 2006 asserting that Vin & Sprit had wrongly been allowed a registration in their own name of the trade mark Golden Gate and that the registration should be cancelled. Golden State Vintners are of the opinion that the trademark is held by them.

As the story goes, back in 1999 Vin& Sprit made a deal with GSV to bottle and tetra-pack a california white wine from GSV and sell it at the state controlled stores under the name "Golden Gate".

At the same time however, Vin&Sprit began selling a red wine in a matching box, also named "Golden Gate". To add insult to injury, Vin&Sprit stopped importing GSV's white wine in 2005, and instead filled the Golden Gate bottles and boxes with some other white wine. Vin&Sprit used to have a national monopoly for production and distribution, which has loosened a little since our entry into the EU, but they are still the operators of Systembolaget the alcoholic beverages retailing monopoly. So if V&S won't buy your stuff, nobody else can.

After 2005, Vin& Sprit changed the name of the wines, since they lost that battle, to California White & California Red, but they kept the Golden gate design of the boxes and even the same order-number in the catalog leading consumers to believe it was the same wine as before.

GSV are seeking damages for lost sales during the time that Vin&Sprit mislead the Swedish consumers using they name, and a separate suit is being filed regarding the infringing use of the Golden Gate bridge on the boxes. GSV are also seeking that the trademarked names "California White" and "California Red" be revoked as the names are too geographically descriptive and can't be separated from other wines from California.

Swedish source: e24 news

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Comments (2)

  • larspeter's picture

    Except that V&S is not owned by Swedish government anymore - The owners: French Pernod Ricard...

    Aug 26, 2009
  • Dabitch's picture

    That buyout had totally slipped my mind! You're right, Pernod Richard own Vin&Sprit and thus also acquired their leading brand Absolut Vodka. The Systembolaget stores where you may buy alcoholic beverages are still the reigning monopoly however. I guess that is why this article points out the GSV are filing suit both against vin&sprit and against Systembolaget, where the wines are sold separately. Systembolaget is still a government controlled company. My headline to this post is only partly incorrect. Let me fix it: Golden State Vintners sues Swedish government owned Systembolaget and Vin & Sprit for trademark infringement. There, all better.

    Aug 26, 2009

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