Jackson Family Wines Sues E. & J. Gallo Over "La Crema" Trademark.
April 05, 2021
Jackson Family Wines Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit against the world’s biggest wine producer for alleged trademark infringement, according to the civil complaint.
The Santa Rosa-based wine giant alleges E. & J. Gallo Winery’s brand name for its wine “Cask & Cream” is “confusingly similar” to Jackson Family Wines’ “La Crema” trademark, according to the lawsuit filed March 31 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
“Under these circumstances, consumer confusion is inevitable,” according to the complaint.
“La Crema” is sold nationwide. It is among the top 15 best-selling wines by the bottle in the United States over the past 5 years, according to the lawsuit.
The dispute began after Gallo decided to produce wine under the brand name “Cask & Cream,” according to the complaint. Gallo first used the mark “Cask &. Cream” in 1996, but it was to sell liquor, according to the lawsuit.
In 2013, Gallo filed a new trademark application for “Cask & Cream,” one for “’alcoholic beverages except beers,’” according to the complaint. Jackson Family Wines objected because it would include wine, according to the filing. In response, Gallo said the trademark would only be used on distilled spirits, including cream liquor, and the application was amended, according to the lawsuit. The registration for that mark was issued in 2013, according to the court document.
However in 2019, Gallo filed another trademark application for “Cask & Cream.” This one would be for “wines,” according to the lawsuit. The Jackson Family Wines entity that sells “La Crema” – LC TM Holding LLC - opposed the application, according to the complaint.
Gallo plans to sell and ship the “Cask & Cream” wine “imminently,” according to the complaint which also lists LC TM as a plaintiff. Gallo has obtained three certificates of label approvals - or COLAs – from the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau for wine labels with the brand name “Cask & Cream,” according to the complaint. The wine is produced in St. Helena, according to the labels.
Jackson Family Wines and LC TM tried to resolve the matter before the lawsuit was filed, but Gallo responded it “did not wish to discuss potentially resolving the dispute,” according to the complaint.
Between 2016 and 2020, Jackson Family Wines has sold more than 80 million “La Crema” bottles, including 15 million bottles in 2020, according to the court filing. Its Chardonnay was the second-best selling wine for that variety in 2020 in the US while its Pinot Noir was the third-best selling Pinot Noir in the nation. Since 2002, “La Crema” Chardonnay has outsold all other Chardonnays priced at more than $11 while La Crema Pinot Noir remains among the “top selling” Pinot Noirs priced at more than $11 in the United States, according to the complaint.
La Crema wines are produced with fruit from a number of region including Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley, Monterey, Arroyo Seco, Sonoma Coast Carneros, as well as Willamette Valley. The production includes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir Rosé and Sparkling Brut Rosé, according to the lawsuit.
La Crema celebrated its 40th anniversary as a brand in 2019. Jackson Family Wines has owned the brand since 1993.
A trademark lawsuit over “La Crema” filed in 2018 against Enovation Brands Inc. and Terravant Wine Company was dismissed in 2019, with each party paying for its attorney fees and costs, according to court filings.
In perhaps the best known trademark suit litigated between two wine companies, Kendall Jackson sued E & J Galo in the late 1990s over Gallo's look-alike Turning Leaf label. E & J Gallo prevailed in that case.