Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Bob Dylan's whisky company sued for trademark infringement

Even young music fans in New Jersey likely know that Bob Dylan was a major counterculture figure in the 1960s, but they may not know that the 77-year-old folk singer is now a successful entrepreneur. Dylan's thriving whisky company, which was launched in April 2018, is named after one of his most famous songs, but Heaven Hill Distillery has taken exception to the name and filed a trademark infringement lawsuit that aims to shut Dylan's nascent commercial venture down.

The Kentucky-based distillery says that the similar names could confuse consumers, and they claim that Dylan's choice of a stacked logo design increases the likelihood that whisky buyers looking for Heaven Hill whisky will purchase a Heaven's Door product instead. The lawsuit, which was filed on Aug. 17 in Kentucky, seeks an injunction that would prevent Heaven's Door Distillery from making, distributing or promoting its products until the litigation is concluded. The company's attorneys are also asking the judge to order all materials featuring Heaven's Door branding to be handed over.

Dylan's company has responded by saying that it does not intend to change its name, logo or branding. Heaven's Door says that the two brands are quite distinct and consumers are very unlikely to be confused. A side-by-side comparison of Heaven's Door and Heaven Hill whiskies seems to support Heaven's Door's position. The bottles are a different shape, and the label placement, font and color schemes are different.

Attorneys with experience in cases involving trademark law may seek to settle this kind of dispute through negotiation rather than litigation. Intellectual property lawsuits can be long and expensive, and prevailing in court might be little more than a pyrrhic victory when the defendant is a figure beloved by large sections of the public.

Source: Tech Dirt, Heaven Hill Distillery Knocks On Bob Dylan's Door Over His Heaven's Door Whiskey For Trademark Infringement, Timothy Geigner, Aug. 21, 2018

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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