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Monday
Aug132012

You Can Trademark That?

I was emailing with Ron Cooper from Del Maguey mezcal yesterday and he told me he had a trademark on the term "single village mezcal," which totally blew my mind.  I'm not an expert on Oaxacan history, but I'm guessing that they've been making different mezcals in different villages for decades, if not longer, so it's amazing to me that a descriptor that specifies something traditional and historic can be owned.  In Italy, every town across the entire country seems to have its own special amaro, fernet, or special herbal liqueur that is village specific or unique to a certain region.  I'm wondering if someone started a brand that marketed each of these liqueurs as "single village Italian liqueurs," and then trademarked that term, would that then make it illegal for any other producer to market its product as a regional specialty?  How far and how specific does this trademark go?  What if someone trademarked the term "single island single malt" or "single distillery Bourbon?"  It's interesting to me because I had previously described the Alipus mezcals in the post below as "single village" because they are from single villages.  No one from the company told me they were specifically "single village," I just know that the names of the products are based on the villages where they are made, hence my descriptions.  However, according to Ron, "single village" can only apply to Del Maguey products when it comes to mezcal, so I had to change the wording. 

I'm totally intrigued by this idea.  I hope to do more research as to what is possible when it comes to trademarking booze.  It's important to know what is universally protected and what can be owned by one brand.  More on this as I delve into the law books.

-David Driscoll