Appeals court grants wax seal to Maker’s Mark

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“We’ve been confident in our position all along, and today’s outcome confirming that our unique trade dress cannot be infringed is great news for fans of Maker's Mark, those who handcraft our bourbon, and those who individually dip each bottle every day,” Mr. Samuels said.

Messages left for Diageo North America and Casa Cuervo were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

At oral arguments in December, Maker's Mark attorney Edward T. Colbert told the judges that Cuervo had no need to use the wax seal because it serves no purpose other than eye-catching looks.

Attorneys for Diageo and Cuervo argued that using a wax seal wouldn’t cause customers to confuse the company’s tequila with the bourbon or believe the two companies were affiliated.

Judge Martin quoted the late Justice Hugo Black, who wrote, “I was brought up to believe that Scotch whiskey would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon.”

Judge Martin added, “While there may be some truth in Justice Black’s statement that paints Kentucky bourbon as such an economic force that its competitors need government protection or preference to compete with it, it does not mean a Kentucky bourbon distiller may not also avail itself of our laws to protect its assets.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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