Judges rein in '800 lb gorilla' Gallo

Judges rein in '800 lb gorilla' Gallo News Wine News
  • Thursday 2 November 2000

A long-running attempt by the biggest wine company in the world to prevent a small neighbour from registering its trademark has been rejected in court.

Californian giant Gallo claimed the Santa Ynez-based Bridlewood label was an infringement of its own Burlwood trademark and would confuse consumers. The dispute has been running since July 1997 when the young winery first filed with the US Patent Office to register its new label.

Judges have ruled 'Burlwood not only differs greatly in appearance and sound from the applicant's mark Bridlewood, but also conveys a much different overall commercial impression.' Gallo was blocked from appealing the decision

Bridlewood general manager Randy Pace can't contain his relief – or disbelief. 'There's nothing confusing about our wine except that it ends in wood and starts with b,' he told decanter.com. 'There's no telling what they would have forced us to do if they had won the case.'

During informal discussions intended to resolve the case out of court, Bridlewood had declined Gallo's suggestion that the trademark registration be withdrawn.

Pace claims that Bridlewood displayed unusual determination not to buckle under legal pressure from Gallo, with its 'massive staff' of attorneys. 'It [the company] is like an 800lb gorilla. Most of its victims lie down and play dead.'

Bridlewood's first vintage was in 1997. The winery is currently selling vintages from 1998 and 1999.

Gallo declined to comment.

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