SUNDAY, 10 FEBRUARY 2013
Portugal: dispute over liquors
During this week, the Portuguese newspapers reported in detail the dispute currently pending between J. CARRANCA REDONDO and CAVES DA MONTANHA - A.HENRIQUES, LDA. (hereinafter, “CAVES DA MONTANHA”) over the exclusive right to use the sign “O LICOR DE PORTUGAL” / “O LICOR NACIONAL” (“The Portuguese Liquor” / “The National Liquor”).
J. CARRANCA REDONDO is the owner, among others, of Portuguese Trade Marks nos. 125369 “LICOR BEIRÃO”, 388142 “LICOR BEIRÃO O LICOR DE PORTUGAL” and 404730 “LICOR BEIRÃO – O LICOR DE PORTUGAL” and has been producing “LICOR BEIRÃO” at least since the ‘40s (for the history of the company and the liquor, please consult http://www.licorbeirao.com/). This liquor has been the subject of innovating advertising campaigns since day one (on the right, you can see a pin up poster used on the 60’s, way ahead of its time, especially considering the Portuguese limitations on freedom of expression and press during the Estado Novo authoritarian regime), which highly contributed for its notoriety among the Portuguese Public. At least since the 80’s, the slogan “LICOR BEIRÃO O LICOR DE PORTUGAL” (“Licor Beirão The Portuguese Liqueur”) has been used by this company to promote its liquor.
On the other hand, CAVES DA MONTANHA is the producer of “LICOR NACIONAL” , “a liqueur produced based on the flavor of herbs harvested in Portugal, presenting to each of its customers a bit of the flavors of our land”, that was launched in the Portuguese Market on May 2012. It is also the owner of Portuguese Trade Mark no. 486675 “LICOR NACIONAL” (annulment action currently pending on the Portuguese Intellectual Property Court – File no. 482/12.8YHLSB) and applied for the registration of Portuguese Trade Mark no. 500024 “LICOR NACIONAL” (against which two oppositions have been filled, one of which by J. CARRANCA REDONDO). The slogan “À NOSSA, PORTUGAL!” (“Cheers, Portugal!) is the slogan used to advertise this trade mark.
According to the news, on October 2012, J. CARRANCA REDONDO filed a preliminary injunction against CAVES DA MONTANHA in order to prevent “LICOR NACIONAL” from being manufactured, bottled, distributed, promoted and sold, claiming that CAVES DA MONTANHA was imitating its notorious slogan “Licor Beirão, o licor de Portugal” and trying to appropriate itself form a reality owned by J. CARRANCA REDONDO and that the phonetic and conceptual similarities between the trade marks would result in a likelihood of confusion. It is reported that the Intellectual Property Court held that the phrase "O LICOR DE PORTUGAL” (“The Portuguese Liqueur”) cannot be exclusively owned by one party and that, therefore, nothing hindered other party from using the same or similar wording. It is added that the ruling considered that there is no graphical, aural or another similarity that creates likelihood of confusion on the part of the public between the two signs, as their overall composition is in fact different.
J. CARRANCA REDONDO has issued a press statement stating that it respects the decision of the Intellectual Property Court, but that it does not agree with it and, therefore, is evaluating the possibility of filing an appeal, as it maintains its belief that CAVES DA MONTANHA practices acts of unfair competition, copying the commercial strategy of J. CARRANCA REDONDO used for the promotion of “LICOR BEIRÃO – O LICOR DE PORTUGAL”.This dispute is, therefore, far from over.
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