Whiskey makers war over trademark infringement

Sazerac cracks down on rival spirits maker over “sinful” cinnamon-flavored liquors

Things are heating up from the bayou to bourbon country. A Hood River Distillers Inc. product has lit a fire under Louisiana-based Sazerac Co., inciting the 162-year-old distillery to sue the rival spirits marker for trademark infringement.

The spat centers on Hood River’s SinFire Cinnamon Whiskey, which Sazerac says infringes upon its “Fireball” and “Fire Water” trademarks. The terms “SinFire” and “Fireball” are used in conjunction with cinnamon-flavored whiskey, and Sazerac uses “Fire Water” for its cinnamon liqueur.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Hood River filed an application to register “SinFire” as a trademark on Aug. 17, 2011. However, Sazerac filed an opposition to the application on Jan. 18, and filed a lawsuit, Sazerac Co. Inc., v. Hood River Distillers Inc., on Feb. 10 in Louisville, Ky.

Sazerac alleges the public will be confused by the similarity in product names, and that its reputation will be tarnished if Hood River is allowed to sell its SinFire whiskey. Additionally, Sazerac requested that Hood River not be allowed to use “SinFire” and any trade dress, marks or graphics similar to what Sazerac uses with its liquors.

Distribution of SinFire is slated to begin this month.

Of course, whether or not a public drinking cinnamon-flavored whiskey—which is marketed as a “challenge shot” and is akin to what it’s “like to get a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face if his legs were on fire and tasted like cinnamon”—is sober or potentially discerning enough to tell the difference between the liquors remains to be seen.

For more, read Bloomberg.

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