Experienced And Knowledgeable With Both The Alcohol beverage Industry And The Law

Trade dress infringement in the alcoholic beverage industry

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | alcohol beverage law

The world of alcoholic beverages can be fiercely competitive. Craft breweries, established distilleries and innovative wineries all vie for consumer attention on crowded shelves. A distinct and memorable identity is a crucial element in this battle for brand loyalty. But what happens when a competitor’s product looks suspiciously similar to yours? This is where trade dress infringement comes into play.

Trade dress goes beyond just a brand name or logo. It encompasses the entire visual presentation of a product, including the packaging, bottle design, labeling and even color schemes. For established alcoholic brands, these elements become a shorthand for consumers. They instantly convey the brand’s personality and quality. Trade dress infringement occurs when a competitor’s product design is so similar that it creates a likelihood of confusion among consumers. Essentially, the competitor is trying to piggyback on another brand’s success.

Understanding trade dress infringement

Trade dress protection is a facet of trademark law. For a trade dress to be eligible for legal protection, it must be distinctive and have acquired a secondary meaning. This signifies that consumers recognize the design as being associated with a specific brand, not merely the product itself.

Trade dress infringement can happen intentionally, as a form of unfair competition, or unintentionally. Infringement might involve: 

  • Mimicking the shape of a competitor’s bottle 
  • Using similar label designs 
  • Copying a unique color scheme that consumers associate with a specific brand

To combat trade dress infringement, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the allegedly infringing trade dress creates some level of consumer confusion regarding the source of the products.

Trade dress infringement in the alcoholic beverage industry can severely affect a brand’s reputation and market share. Seeking legal guidance to help understand the nuances of trade dress protection and staying vigilant against potential infringements are essential steps for any alcoholic brand. 


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The foregoing was prepared as general information. It is not meant to provide legal advice granting any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel. If you have questions or require additional information regarding these or other related matters, please contact Malkin Law, P.A. This material may be considered attorney advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.