JL Beverage Company, LLC v. Beam, Inc., No. 2:11-cv-00417-MMD-CWH, 2012 WL 4472097 (D. Nev. Sept. 25, 2012)

In JL Beverage Company, LLC v. Beam, Inc., No. 2:11-cv-00417-MMD-CWH, 2012 WL 4472097 (D. Nev. Sept. 25, 2012), the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada ruled that the use a woman’s lip print on a vodka label was not sufficient by itself to create a likelihood of confusion with another vodka brand that also uses lip marks in its logos. Plaintiff created a line of flavored and unflavored vodka called “Johnny Love,” which featured a woman’s lip print as its logo. The plaintiff registered two design marks in connection with the sale of this vodka. Defendants created a line of flavored vodka called “Pucker Vodka,” which also featured a prominent lip image in the center of the label. Both brands varied the color of the lips depending on the flavor of vodka. The plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction requesting that the defendants cease using the current Pucker label in connection with their vodka bottles and promotional materials, and that the defendants recall any Pucker Vodka bottles with the allegedly infringing label and packaging.

Applying the Sleekcraft test for determining likelihood of confusion, the court found that the plaintiff had not established a likelihood of success on the merits of its infringement claims. Citing several other alcoholic beverages that use a lip symbol, the court found that the plaintiff’s brand had “a relatively weak commercial presence.” On the other hand, Pucker Vodka was relatively strong commercially. Moreover, the lip prints were presented differently on the label. The plaintiff used the lip print as the “O” in the “Johnny Love” logo. Finally, the court noted, lip prints, “like snowflakes and fingerprints,” were significantly different from one another. Therefore, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.