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Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc. v. Diageo North America, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
679 F.3d 410 (2012)


Facts

Beginning in 1958, Maker’s Mark Distillery, Inc. (plaintiff) sold bourbon in bottles with a red dripping wax seal. Maker’s Mark obtained a federal trademark for this trade dress. Maker’s Mark advertised its bourbon extensively and focused much of its advertising on the seal. In 2002, Business Week called the seal “one of the most recognizable branding symbols in the world.” Diageo North America, Inc. (defendant) began selling a Jose Cuervo tequila called Reserva de la Familia, which also used a red dripping wax seal. Maker’s Mark sued Diageo for trademark infringement. The parties did not present any evidence on actual confusion. The district court ruled in favor of Maker’s Mark. Diageo appealed with respect to the strength of the mark, the similarity of the marks, and evidence of actual confusion.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Martin, J.)

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