Avalon, the maker of the Wild Geese Irish whiskey brand, has recently launched a campaign against Bacardi, alleging that the drink maker has infringed its trade mark over its “Untamed” trade mark, as a consequence of a new ad campaign from Bacardi under the banner, “Untameable”.
Avalon’s Untamed brand has been protected as a trade mark in various jurisdictions around the world since 2009, covering whiskey and rum products. The etymology of “Untamed” allegedly refers to the story of the wild geese, the term for the Irish people that were forced to leave Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691.
Bacardi, on the other hand, launched a worldwide advertising campaign last November 2013, which it named “Bacardi Untameable,” and which it claims is based on the Bacardi family’s refusal to give in when facing adversity in exile.
Avalon created a website called “Bacardi Controversial” (http://www.bacardi-controversial.com/), which criticises Bacardi’s marketing campaign. Avalon has also filed an opposition at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), in an attempt to block Bacardi’s attempt to register “Untameable” as a trade mark.
The Bacardi Controversial website clearly courts public opinion. Avalon states on the website that Bacardi’s tactics are a danger to all entrepreneurs who rely on their intellectual property, be it trade mark, brand, or identity. Avalon argues on the website that it is unacceptable for Barcardi to place its brand in front of another company’s trade mark and thereby acquire an element of the other company’s brand identity.
“They’ve picked on the wrong company,” said the website.
The website is an unusual self-help tactic. It is clearly not defamatory or misleading, but is it wise? Andre Levy, chairman of Protege International, which handles the marketing of Avalon's brands said that taking Bacardi straight to court would have cost time and money, hence the creation of the website. Avalon notes on the website that the Bacardi family can outspend and outlast Avalon.
Bacardi has yet to make a public statement about the case, nor bring any sort of action against Avalon for use of Bacardi’s name in the website URL.