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Paint Can Claims Uncork a Lawsuit

Friday, September 12, 2014

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Wine-filled paint cans trumpeted in a recent marketing campaign are now at the center of a vintage trademark tussle.

Paradocx Vineyards of Landenburg, PA, says in a new federal lawsuit that it has been using the paint-can idea since 2007 and has patents on the packaging dating to 2009. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The suit against The Interpublic Group of Companies alleges that its McCann Vilnius division, a Lithuanian ad agency, violated Paradocx's patent last year when it used limited-edition paint cans to promote the annual release of the popular French wine, Beaujolais Nouveau.

Paradocx Vineyards paint can wine patent (left); U.S. Design Patent D593,353 (right)

Paradocx Vineyards in Landenburg, PA,  accuses an ad agency of ripping off its "wine in a paint can" design.

Each year, the company develops different packaging to promote the new vintage.

The paint can, labeled "Couleur Nouveau," came with a color chart that correlated how much wine would achieve different shades of stained teeth and lips.

'Intent to Confuse'

Paradocx says Interpublic has "unfairly benefited from Paradocx's advertising and promotion" and has engaged in these activities "with the intent to confuse and deceive the public into believing that Defendant and the wine they are promoting, advertising and selling are in some way sponsored, affiliated or associated with Paradocx, when in fact they are not."

Interpublic, based in Delaware, has offices in New York City and Philadelphia,

Paradocx was issued U.S. patents on June 2, 2009, and March 2, 2010, for two "Recyclable Wine-Dispensing Container" designs, as well as U.S. registrations for the paint can mark used for wine, the suit says.

According to the complaint, Paradocx developed its concept for marketing and distributing wine in paint containers in 2007; it has been selling "Whitewash" and "Barn Red" wines in cans ever since.

McCann Vilnius

McCann Vilnius used limited-edition paint cans to promote the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau. The Lithuanian ad agency develops a new promotion for the French wine each year.

"The shape of Paradocx's container is inherently distinctive, acting as a source indicator for Paradocx's goods and distinguishing Paradocx's goods from those of others," the suit says. "Paradocx's use of its paint can container design has been valid and continuous, and is symbolic of extensive good will and consumer recognition."

Paradocx is seeking action on seven counts: two counts of patent infringement of U.S. design patent, one count of federal trademark infringement, one count of federal false designation of origin and unfair competition, one count of unfair competition under the common law, one count of common law trademark infringement, and one count of unjust enrichment.


Tagged categories: Advertising; Container labels; Europe; Lawsuits; Marketing; North America; Program/Project Management

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/12/2014, 9:07 AM)

Has anyone here ever heard of wine being sold commercially in paint cans before? I haven't, which seems to limit the "extensive good will and consumer recognition"

Comment from Cay Strother, (9/12/2014, 10:34 AM)

How can it be patent infringement unless they go back the orginal designer of the original paint can - seems petty and frivolous. The second design seems more practical.

Comment from peter gibson, (9/12/2014, 2:53 PM)

mmmmm...yummy. wine from a paint can. delicious.

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