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Courtwatch: La Crema versus Crème de la Crème

Jackson Family Wines sues Enovation Brands for allegedly infringing on the name of one of its brands
by Kerana Todorov
July 16, 2018

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Jackson Family of Wines Inc. is suing another wine company for allegedly infringing on the name of one of its brands, according to the trademark complaint.

The Santa Rosa-based wine giant accuses Enovation Brands Inc. of allegedly appropriating “all but one letter” of Jackson Family of Wines’ trademarked name - La Crema, according to the complaint filed May 17 in U.S. District Court.

Enovation Brands’ La Crème de la Crème is produced in Buellton, where Terravant Wine Co., another defendant, is located, according to court records. The blend has not yet been launched, according to Andrew Aitken, an attorney representing Enovation Brands, a Florida-based importer that also owns private label brands. Terravant is named as a defendant.

The dispute started after Enovation Brands filed in September 2015 a U.S. Trademark application for La Crème de la Crème. That prompted Jackson Family Wines to send letters demanding that the company stop using the name, according to court documents.

It also asked Enovation Brands to abandon its trademark application, saying the name for its wine is “confusingly similar” to La Crema, according to court records. A business affiliated with Jackson Family Wines, LC TM Holding LLC, in August 2017 filed its opposition to the La Crème de La Crème’s application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The dispute remains in administrative proceedings pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office, according to an attorney for Enovation Brands.

In its complaint filed in May in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Jackson Family Wines and its business affiliate, LC TM Holding LLC, allege Enovation Brands and Terravant have “continued their clandestine attempts to get their infringing wine to market,” according to the court filing.

Enovation Brands has denied La Crème de La Crème infringes on La Crema.

“We respectfully disagree that Enovation's use of its mark would create a likelihood of confusion among consumers,” Aitken of IP Law Leaders PLLC of Bethesda, Md.

Jackson Family Wines has sold more than 60 million bottles of La Crema between 2012 and 2016, according to Jackson Family of Wines’ complaint. The company sold 16 million bottles in 2016 alone, according to the court filing.

The company said it has devoted “substantial time, effort, and resources to the development and extensive promotion of the La Crema trademark and the wines offered in connection with that brand,” according to the complaint.

It also has spent “many millions of dollars” on marketing and advertising La Crema, according to the court filing. The wine has outsold since 2002 all other Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs priced more than $15 in the United States, according to the court filing. It is now the top selling Chardonnay priced more than $12 and the number one Pinot Noir priced more than $11 in the United States.

Enovation Brands on July 11 filed a motion either to dismiss the case or to stay the present proceedings while the administrative proceeding remain pending before the US Patent and Trademark Office, according to court records.

Enovation, among other legal points, denied the allegations that La Crème de l Crème, would lead to consumer confusion, according to Enovation’ court filing.

“Plaintiff has not and cannot allege that (Enovation) has actually used the Crème de la Crème mark “‘in commerce’” or made any other infringing use of the accused mark,” according to Enovation’s court filing.
La Crema was registered in October 2000.

A representative for Kendall Jackson Family of Wines said the company would not comment on the pending litigation.

A hearing is set for Aug. 13 in Los Angeles.

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