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Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bourbon Kings Can ‘Give the|Bird,’ But They Won’t Share

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CN) - Jim Beam Brands has been using the "Give 'Em the Bird" slogan to advertise Old Crow whiskey without permission from Rare Breed Distilling, which says it coined the phrase for Wild Turkey, according to a federal complaint.

Rare Breed says it first coined "Give Them the Bird" in 2006, and that mark later evolved into "Give 'Em the Bird."

The Delaware-based brand with a distillery in Lawrenceberg, Ky., says the mark is also associated with its other advertising campaign like "The Only Time to Give a Biker the Bird" and "Shoot the Bird." Association of "the Bird" with Wild Turkey dates back to 1977, according to the complaint.

In 2010, however, "Jim Beam embarked on a campaign to unfairly entice consumers to purchase its Old Crow bourbon whisky by using the identical mark," Rare Breed says.

The Wild Turkey maker says it has since spent "significant resource in the development of this mark."

Use of the mark by Jim Beam, which also based in Delaware but with operations in Chicago, misleads consumers into believing that that Old Crow bourbon is associated with Wild Turkey, according to the complaint.

The complaint comes on the heels of Jim Beam's decision to drop its own federal trademark complaint against Tequila Cuervo La Rojena for using a crow's image on liquor bottles.

On Feb. 8, 2011, Jim Beam agreed to release any claims over the mark after more than 10 year of litigation. The bourbon giant is still seeking royalties, however, over the use of the bird in state court, a Manhattan federal judge noted.

Rare Breed wants an injunction against Jim Beam, and punitive damages for trademark infringement and unfair competition. It is represented by Matthew Williams with Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs.

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