It would seem like the most frivolous case to hit the courts in some time.
Butterball PPL, a turkey company based in North Carolina, has sued family-owned Australian wine company McWilliam's for trademark infringement, as reported by Wine Spectator and TechDirt.
It is clear to all that Americans can be very easily confused, but it is extremely unlikely that even a moron in a hurry would be likely to confuse the two products.
Butterball makes poultry products. McWilliam's makes a wide range of wine products, including a rich, flavoursome chardonnay under the Evans & Tate label that it calls Butterball, and has done for some time.
According to a complaint filed on December 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Butterball states that McWilliam’s Wines Group Ltd. “produces, sells, distributes, and imports into the United States a variety of Evans & Tate branded wines, including a type of chardonnay named ‘BUTTERBALL.’
Butterball states that its trademarked goods and services range from turkeys and marinades to fat fryers and mobile device software. The complaint goes on to say, “The consumer goodwill associated with the BUTTERBALL Marks is one of Butterball’s most valuable assets. Accordingly, the integrity of the BUTTERBALL Marks is extremely important to Butterball and crucial to the continued vitality and growth of Butterball’s business.”
Of course, Butterball does not make any wine. And McWilliam's has no intention of selling poultry. It's a case that is clearly a turkey. It is hard to see how Butterball has any beef at all.
But Butterball apparently believes it is in competition with an Australian chardonnay. Or that confusion is likely.
Wine Spectator, treating the story with the seriousness it deserves, says the poultry producer is "accusing the winery of falsely pretending the brands are birds of a feather."
Butterball is asking for a jury to demand that McWilliam’s axe the name, plus pay damages to Butterball for losses including profits gobbled up by legal fees, and a flock of additional fines.
Only in America.