brand vs. brand

Wax Job: Cuervo Wants a Piece of the Maker’s Mark Dippin' Top

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 2, 2011 03:29 PM

Maker’s Mark bourbon was the only liquor on the market for many years that used a red-wax seal at the top of its bottles. It gave off the image of being used as a seal, but purely served a decorative purpose.

The wax became so synonymous with the bourbon that its manufacturer, Fortune Brands, created a whole ad campaign around it and has “onsite dipping stations that allow customers to make their own wax seals on bottles,” the Associated Press reports. In fact, the brand even offers a "dip your own" mobile app on the iTunes store.

Along came Diageo’s Cuervo tequila in 1997, though, with its red wax-topped Reserva label. When it entered the U.S. market in 2001, Maker’s Mark was not happy and filed suit in 2003, the AP notes. It won the case in 2010 but now, here comes the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, because every liquor bottle without wax on the top is really an opportunity missed.

"What they have here is a competitive desire to use the wax, not a competitive need to use wax," said Maker’s Mark attorney Edward T. Colbert, who happens to be comedian Stephen Colbert's brother, the AP reports.

It isn’t clear when the appeals court will make its decision, according to the AP. Fortune Brands, by the way, recently spun off its liquor business into its own company, Beam Inc.

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