In a victory for Michael David Winery, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) reversed a previous Trademark Examiner’s finding to confirm that the use of the mark “Petit Petite,” for a blended wine made with different varieties of grapes, is suggestive and therefore acceptable for commercial use. Michael David Winery, a California-based wine producer, is known for using whimsical names for its products such as Earthquake and Seven Deadly Zins. Vedder Price shareholder Robert S. Beiser and senior associate Alain Villeneuve successfully represented Phillips Farms in a situation where the TTAB rarely reverses the Examiners.
According to Villeneuve, one of the Board’s judges was familiar with different varieties of grapes, which assisted in the finding that “petite” is a suggestive mark and not descriptive. The Examiner originally relied on a translation of the French word “petit,” showing a handful of Internet references in which the words “petit” or “petite” are used in connection with wine or grapes. Vedder Price attorneys refuted the Examiner’s evidence by showing that “most of the instances in which ‘petite’ appears are in the context of direct references to ‘Petite Sirah’ grapes and wine or ‘Petite Verdot’ grapes,” which was upheld when the Board found the PTO’s evidence to be insufficient to support the refusal to register.
Said Villeneuve, “When it comes to product descriptions, all clients walk a fine line between suggestive and descriptive and, in this case, we were successful in proving that the mark is indeed suggestive.”