Sutter Home suing NY wine importer for trademark infringement

California wine giant Sutter Home is suing a New York wine importer for up to US$2 million for trademark infringement over use of the term ‘Napa Cellars’.

As reported by WineBusiness.com,Tri-Vin Imports, a New York-based wine distributor and importer, has allegedly been using Sutter Home’s Napa Cellars trademark to sell a wine called ‘Clos de Napa’.

According to the complaint filed by Sutter Home on 2 October to the US District Court in California, Tri-Vin Imports claims its Clos de Napa Cellars wine is “produced exclusively for distribution by TVI”.

In the lawsuit, Sutter Home is accusing Tri-Vin of capitalising “on the great success of the Napa Cellars brand” and of unfairly competing with the Napa Cellars brand “by misleading consumers and distributors as to the origin of the Clos de Napa Cellars brand”.

Marc Oliveira, who is named in the lawsuit as a vice president of sales for Tri-Vin Imports, applied for the ‘Clos De Napa’ trademark this April for the use on “wines derived from grapes grown in the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area”.

Sutter Home is seeking a court order to have Tri-Vin Imports stop using the Clos de Napa Cellars name to sell wine. The wine giant also wants Tri-Vin Imports to destroy labels, corks and adverts featuring Clos de Napa Cellars branding.

According to the lawsuit, a technical sheet for the 2018 Clos De Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc on Tri-Vin’s website is “virtually an identical copy of the fact sheet” for Sutter Home’s 2018 Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.Owned by Trinchero

Family Estates, the ‘Napa Cellars’ name was established in 1976 and the trademark has been in use since 1982, according to lawsuit.

The Trinchero Family Estates Napa Cellars range, which is sold throughout the US, includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The enclosed image is of a bottle of Clos de Napa Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, one of the wines in the Clos de Napa range sold by Tri-Vin Imports.

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