Wild Geese wins 14-year legal battle against Pernod

Wild Geese Irish whiskey will be released in Australia after it won a fourteen year legal battle launched by Pernod Ricard that had sought to prevent its entry into the market.

Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Collection (PRNewsFoto/Wild Geese Irish Whiskey)

The Wild Geese Irish whiskey collection, produced at the former Cooley’s distillery

Pernod Ricard launched legal action against Wild Geese and its Australian drinks distributor Protégé International in 2002 over claims its brand could too easily be confused with Pernod’s Wild Turkey bourbon

The action arose after Wild Geese refused to grant Pernod Ricard the power of a veto on where The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey could be sold in competition with Jameson.
Pernod initially sought court action to secure the ‘Wild Geese’ trademark in Australia, therefore preventing Wild Geese Irish Whiskey from trading in the Irish whiskey market.

When Pernod Ricard sold the Wild Turkey brand in 2013 for US$574m (£392m), its new owners Campari took over the case.

After 14 years and 50 separate actions around the world, all of which were successfully defended by Wild Geese, five Australian federal court judges this week unanimously found in favour of Wild Geese, allowing it to trade in Australia, and also awarded full indemnity costs.

Ándre Levy, co-founder and chairman of Wild Geese, said the decision marked an important day, not only for his brand, but the Irish whiskey category as a whole.

“The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey has been involved in a 14 year legal battle with Pernod Ricard involving over 50 separate actions around the world, all of which we have successfully defended. This includes the USA where The Wild Geese is sold as The Wild Geese Soldiers & Heroes.

“These actions sought to limit the market access of the Wild Geese Irish Whiskey and other smaller independent brands of which we are a representative. Despite the supposed renaissance of Irish Whiskey, the reality is that the industry is still dominated by large organisations such as Pernod Ricard.

“We continue to fight for our right to contribute to the Irish Whiskey Category which we have been a part of since 1999. Therefore, to ensure our continued growth and success, we have been forced to buy Irish whiskey at a premium from third parties who have been able to access whiskey that we are unable to purchase directly from large producers.

“Big company tactics are designed to remove competition. We epitomise the spirit of The Wild Geese; it’s not just an abstract – something that big company may wish to reflect upon.”

The decision will enable Wild Geese to access the Australian market again.

Campari have been contacted for comment.

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