MAKER’S MARK WINS THE WAX WAR
Maker’s Mark takes its red wax seriously and woe unto any other brand that attempts to use it. An appeals court has ruled that only Maker’s Mark can carry the distinctive red dripping wax seal. The decision comes in an appeal brought by Diageo North America and Casa Cuervo of Mexico, which used a dripping red wax seal on special bottles of its Reserva tequila back in 1997. US District Judge John G. Heyburn II in 2O1O granted Maker’s Mark’s request for an injunction stopping other liquor companies from using the seal and the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the decision.
The Samuels family, which created Maker’s Mark in 1958, trademarked the distinctive seal in 1985. Perfected by Margie Samuels in the family’s deep fryer, the seal doesn’t serve any practical purpose in keeping the bottle closed. The trademark held by the brand describes the seal as a “wax-like coating covering the cap of the bottle and trickling down the neck of the bottle in a freeform irregular pattern.” The trademark application doesn’t refer to a specific color, but Maker’s Mark told the court it has sought to enforce the trademark only as it applied to the red dripping wax seal. Casa Cuervo included a dripping wax seal on bottles in 1997 as part of an effort to create an artisan look. The bottles of Reserva with the new seal entered the US market in 2OO1 in a limited production of 3OOO to 4OOO bottles and remained on sale for about three years. Maker’s Mark sued in 2OO3, claiming it violated the long-standing trademark. Cuervo dropped the dripping wax seal six years ago. Diageo said in a statement the company was disappointed with the ruling, but there would be no practical effect because neither Diageo nor Cuervo has used red wax seals since 2OO4.