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Absolut sues Kahlua impersonator

Pernod Ricard subsidiary Absolut Co is taking a drinks company to court over its “Kahfúa” liqueur, which it claims is a case of blatant counterfeiting of its own Kahlua coffee liqueur.

The branding for Absolut’s Kahlua coffee liqueur which Absolut alleges has been infringed (Photo: Absolut)
The “Kahfua” brand that Absolut claims is evidence of trademark counterfeiting (Photo: TTB)

Absolut filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court on Wednesday after the spirits producer discovered Brooklyn-based company Happy Hearts Wine – which purports to be an importer of Israeli wine on its website – was seeking government approval for a “Kahfua” liquor brand.

The branding is nearly identical to that used for its Kahlua coffee liqueur, with the only noticeable difference being one letter in the name, Absolut claims.

According to Law 360, Happy Hearts came to the attention of Absolut when it applied for the approval of its label for “Kafua”, a process required by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau before a new product can go on sale.

“There can be no credible argument that defendant’s copying was not intended to capitalise on the fame and equity of [Absolute’s] Kahlua brand, and to trick consumers into purchasing defendant’s inferior competing product,” according to court papers handed over by Absolut on Thursday.

The suit lists copyright infringement, unfair competition, and the more serious charge of trademark counterfeiting.

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