As Trust Tree’s resident bourbon expert* (sorry Bill & G) and Guns N’ Roses fan, I must uncork a post about the trademark dispute between Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. and Heaven’s Door Spirits, LLC that recently spilled over into a federal lawsuit.
Heaven’s Door is named after the famous song by Bob Dylan, who has collaborated with the company to create a line of American whiskeys. In April, Heaven Hill, a 90-year old distillery, sent Heaven’s Door a cease and desist letter demanding that it cease use of the name and abandon several trademark applications seeking to protect HEAVEN’S DOOR. The letter argued that use of HEAVEN’S DOOR would “create a likelihood of confusion” with Heaven’s Hill products, including whiskeys, and services that bear the trademark HEAVEN HILL.
Heaven’s Door disagreed and refused to cease and desist. Earlier this week, Heaven Hill filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing, among other things, that Heaven’s Door was infringing its trademark rights. Trademark infringement lawsuits can be long and expensive.
As a potential trademark owner, we want to help you avoid such conflicts. Rather than continue to bore you with the procedural posture or merits of the Heaven Hill case, pour your favorite libation, watch the video at the end of the post of GNR crushing “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” and heed the following advice to avoid the cold black cloud of trademark litigation from coming down.
In the likelihood of confusion analysis, the general view is that consumers are generally more inclined to focus on the first word in any trademark. Therefore, if your preferred trademark shares the same first word with a pre-existing trademark for a similar product or service, you may want to consider a different trademark (or consult with a trademark attorney).
*Editor’s Note: This is fake news.