Trademark litigation from a local liquor business


The owners of a local liquor company want to honor their Nova Scotia hometown with their products. A trademark dispute with a European commercial group complicates the task.

Jesse Sommer poured years of hopes and dreams into four wooden barrels stored inside the Albany Distilling Company.

“We will be producing a few thousand bottles in 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond,” said Sommer, co-owner of New Scotch Spirits.

He started the liquor company with his friend and compatriot Patrick Carey, originally from Nova Scotia, in 2016.

“I am a Nova Scotian. I grew up here. I am proud of the city, ”Sommer said.

The namesake of his company is the source of his problems. The Scotch Whiskey Association is taking legal action against them for the names of two of their “Auld Lang Syne” and “New Scotch” whiskeys.

“I don’t know what you would call it otherwise. It’s from Nova Scotia, so it’s New Scotch whiskey, it’s New Scotch vodka, it’s New Scotch bourbon, ”Sommer said.

Lawyers for the European trade organization say they are tricking consumers into selling genuine Scotch whiskey which by definition can only be produced in Scotland.

“I don’t want people to think we’re Scottish. I want them to see us as an American spirit with a Nova Scotia soul, ”Sommer said.

Their liquor is made and stored at the Albany Distilling Company. Owner and distiller John Curtin lives in Nova Scotia while Sommer, an army judge advocate, is stationed in Florida – Curtin oversees production.

“It’s really good to bring a good sense of belonging to a wonderful community like Nova Scotia,” said Curtin.

Grains, barley, wheat and rye are all locally sourced. Rebecca Miller of Lime Kiln Farm, a childhood friend of Sommer, hopes the spirits give her a familiar reminder.

“We want everyone to feel at home; like it’s a homecoming drink and it should be for every celebration, ”Miller said.

Sommer says he is ready to stand trial but hopes a compromise can be found with the Scottish Whiskey Association. Whatever the outcome, Sommer says he’s sure his spirits will hit the market.

Spectrum News has contacted the Scotch Whiskey Association for comment and received a response on Thursday.

“We do appreciate that ‘Scotland’ is used as a place name in other parts of the world, but when the words ‘Scotland’ or ‘Scotch’ are used on a whiskey, consumers will think of whiskey produced in Scotland and not the same. New York State. To give another example, even though there is a place in Cyprus called Aiya Napa, I’m sure you would agree that if ‘Napa’ was used on a wine people would assume it’s Californian, ”Lindesay Low said. , deputy director of the legal department. .

She went on to say, “We have a duty to prevent the infringement of intellectual property attached to Scotch Whiskey, regardless of the extent of the infringement. It is also important to remember that New Scotch has filed an application to register federal trademarks which, if granted, will give them exclusive rights in those terms across the United States.

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