Sum-merlot is the registered trademark of wine importer LFE, who wants to launch the red wine on the market under the same name. The name ZoMerlot is created by Chateau de la Garde, the company of the well-known winemaker Ilja Gort. Chateau de la Garde uses the name ZoMerlot as an indication for a one-time edition (during the summer of 2017), launched as part of the La Tulipe wine brand. The company of Ilja Gort starts in June 2017 with the supply of ZoMerlot to a supermarket chain. Shortly after, LFE demands Chateau de la Garde to put a stop to this, on the basis of infringement on its trademark.
Chateau de la Garde opposes the argument of a trademark infringement. The company is also not willing to cancel the delivery of the already purchased bottles of wine. Because of this, LFE is filing a interlocutory procedure. According to LFE, the word ‘ZoMerlot’ resembles their ‘Sum-merlot’ too much. LFE argues that it has invested substantially in the development of the concept Sum-merlot (a chilled red wine to drink during summer). The investment is now being threatened by the actions of Chateau de la Garde, says LFE.
According to the judge, there are not enough similarities between both names that could lead to confusion for consumers. In addition, the judge ruled that both names are mostly descriptive in nature and that Chateau de la Garde only uses the trademark ZoMerlot in combination with its wine brand La Tulipe. To conclude, the judge finds it important that LFE has yet to launch wine under the name Sum-merlot on the market. Because of this, the brand does not yet have any familiarity amongst consumers.
In the meantime, ZoMerlot will stay for sale in the grocery store because of the verdict of the judge. Unless LFE and Chateau de la Garde solve the issue together, a procedure on the merits will follow. It will be interesting to see if the judge will come to the same conclusion then.