Maker of Yellow Tail sues Bronco over Down Under

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Casella Wines, the maker of [yellow tail], has sued two companies associated with Fred T. Franzia over their new Australian wine, Down Under. Franzia’s Bronco Wine Co. also makes “Two Buck Chuck.”

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan yesterday, alleges that the label for [Down Under] is substantially similar to and infringes on the trademarked label for [yellow tail].

“Bronco’s use of Casella’s iconic square brackets and its use of Australian-centric wording in connection with the sale of Australian wine are likely to confuse consumers,” the lawsuit said.

[Down Under] sells for about $3, or half the price of [yellow tail]. Both wines come in high-shouldered bottles and have duotone capsules as seen in the image after the jump.

If you were presenting evidence to the judge, what would you say in this case?

Lawsuit details: Casella Wines Pty. Ltd. v. Bronco Wine Company et al; Court: New York Southern District Court; Court Case Number: 1:09-cv-07127-RJH; Judge: Richard J. Holwell


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16 Responses to “Maker of Yellow Tail sues Bronco over Down Under”

  1. Meh. On it’s merits, as Dr. Vino has laid it out, the Casellas are gonna get laughed out of court; it’s not like Mattie’s Perch, Alice White, and, oh, ANY MASS-PRODUCING AUSSIE WINEMAKER don’t use “Australian-centric wording.” The brackets… well, they don’t have a trademark on those, do they?

    It’s a case of a company being over-aggressive in defending their interests. Nothing to see here, move along.

  2. Yes, it’s very confusing when you are trying to identify which is the worst of the two wines.

  3. Color me a confused consumer. Which wording are they referring to as being “Australian-centric”? Product of Australia?

    However will I be able to tell apart any of my favorite critter-label mass-market ultra-manipulated wines?

  4. Is it possible that this is just an attempt by Yellow Tail to aggressively protect its brand? This strategy certainly has worked well for Disney in the past. Making it known to other winemakers that producing anything that threatens Yellow Tail’s market-share may be an extremely effective business tactic.

    That said, I’m not certain a reasonable consumer is about to confuse these two bottles.

  5. My only confusion remains with the issue. I would not have trouble noting the differences between the two bottles. The motives seem more aligned with self-preservation rather than some kind of care for the consumer.

  6. This is exactly what Fred likes. A senseless lawsuit that will do nothing except bring him lots of free publicity for his brand. They would be better off just leaving it alone. Fred is laughing all over them right now. He didn’t get to be one of the biggest producers in the industry by being a knucklehead, he knows exactly what he is doing.

  7. Is there anything to the rumor that, due to the Australian drought, Yellow Tail has sourced its grapes from outside Australia?

  8. I think you’re looking at the wrong label. The Down Under sold at Trader Joe’s (which is not the Crane Lake)is a different label and looks a lot more like the Yellow Tail.

  9. @Sue – do you have a photo? Or anyone else near a TJ’s w a cameraphone?

  10. the point [yellow tail] is making is that Franzia is using the logo of [yellow tail]…the brackets ARE part of the logo is what they are claiming…

  11. Crane Lake sells under its own label, but the [Down Under]version is sold at Trader Joe’s.

  12. In response to Frank

    Yes we are in a huge drought in here in AUS, but we also have a huge oversupply of grapes & Yellowtail are able to pick and choose there grape supplies & name there price too. Unfortunately AUS has the wine stigma of cheap industrial cheap wine producer – because of the Yellow Tail dominance around the world

  13. Interesting lawsuit. The labels look like they could be made by the same designer but don’t many labels in Bordeaux resemble each other?

    The Penguin labels are more similar to the Yellow Tail labels IMO.

  14. Here is a link to a pic of the Chuck version

  15. Under Chuck (love that titling Ed) seems closer to Yellowtail’s look and feel. Still – how do you defend against the use of standard punctuation or the use of Australian terms to refer to wine that comes from grapes grown in Australia?

    They might have a better chance going after a small winery or a start up – could snow them with legal costs. But Franzia? I’m expecting Yellowtail shipments to be found contaminated with drugs, illegal immigrants, and weapons headed for Iran! Don’t fight Bronco, just not worth it.

  16. Hey, Ed, thanks for the link to the TJ label. Now that I’ve seen it, yes, I think Charles Shaw International is infringing on Yellowtail’s trademark.


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