Before the courts: Cristal ($299) defeats Cristalino ($5.99)

cristal cristalino
Last week, a judge ruled in favor of Cristal champagne over the cava Cristalino. And it wasn’t a taste test.

The makers of the two wines have been sparring in court for the past four years. In the latest round, according to twincities.com, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen has barred the makers of Cristalino from “using any mark, word, or name similar to the Cristalino name that is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception with Roederer’s Cristal marks.” She also ordered them to change the brand’s name, lose the colors, and change the font on the label.

It would be interesting to hear the legal arguments for both sides. But on the face of it, do you think the makers of the $5.99 cava had constructed their product to free ride on the association with the $300 Cristal?

J. García Carrión, the maker of Cristalino, produces and markets fruit juices and wines in Spain. Champagne Louis Roederer has several wine properties outside of Champagne including Domaine Ott in Provence, Chateau Pichon-Lalande in Bordeaux, and Roederer Estate in California.

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27 Responses to “Before the courts: Cristal ($299) defeats Cristalino ($5.99)”


  1. I can see where an uninformed consumer might believe they were purchasing Crystal Light… errr, Cristal light.


  2. How funny… I never made the connection between the two until I read this.


  3. I would hope no one got confused between to the two products specifically but I could see how someone may think it falls under Cristal product line. A value product or property owned by Cristal with a Spanish play on the name.


  4. This is interesting and funny. I work in wine retail and our store offers both. The connection between the two never even crossed my mind until your post about their legal battles.


  5. Yeah I was never confused about the two either. Actually just bought some Cristolino last night – was first introduced to it by a wine snob boss who needed something tasty and that wouldn’t break the bank for a company event.


  6. Laurie – funny!

    Although I know both the wines, I hadn’t ever been confused by them.

    Ed McCarthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, has a different view since he just tweeted: I testified for Cristal at the trial; their case was just, believe me. And Cristalino is more like $9.99.

    I wonder what the new Cristalino will be called (assuming no further appeal)?


  7. I never once thought of the connection–and I drink both. I think Roederer has done more to suggest the connection than Carrion ever did. Here’s more info on the order and arguments:

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B_ShETZYawQEM2Q3ZDc4YzItMjMwNi00YmZiLTk3MmEtYmZhYjY0Yjk2YmIx&hl=en

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/24780378/Louis-Roederer-Trial-Brief

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/16760803/Champage-Louis-Roederer-v-J-Garcia-Carrion-SA-et-al-No-082907-8th-Cir-June-24-2009


  8. $5.99 might be a little low, but you can buy it by the case here for $8 a bottle. I’ve never thought the two were related, but in terms of how trademark cases are decided, Cristalino was going to lose. There’s too much similarity between the names.


  9. I agree with Ed McCarthy. It is not about direct confusion but that Cristal may have something to do with Cristalino.
    Anyone on this site is probably a fairly well educated wine consumer. The though of the two wines being related may seem silly but maybe not to the average consumer.


  10. Cristalino’s changing its name to Swarovskilino.


  11. Remember when E & J Gallo last year sued a Seattle gourmet food store for selling a Spanish pasta called Gallo (http://www.drvino.com/2009/05/11/gallos-humor-legal-actions-gallo-wine/)?

    That kind of puts this in perspective. Companies apparently not infrequently behave this way.


  12. Hmmm. As the average wine consumer, I don’t think I would have gotten them confused. There are enough differences in the looks of the labels and colors of the bottles that I wouldn’t have put them together.


  13. In all seriousness, under federal trademark law, it behooves a company to be vigilant against even the appearance of infringement. If a company becomes lax in the policing of their trademark interests,they risk damaging the value of their trademark.

    Even if it is unlikely that a consumer will be confused between the two products, Roederer must be diligent in protecting the name Cristal or it could, overtime, become into a generic term for “prized bubbly”. Aspirin was once a trademarked product… and how many times do you use the term saran wrap when you are referring to any sticky, filmy product (like Glad wrap)?

    As odd as it may seem, Roederer is merely protecting the value of their brand.


  14. Honestly I never saw any comparison until reading this article. While Cristal does appear to be the older brand, Cristalino has been around over 20 years as well. Why is this just now an issue? I find it hard to buy there would be any confusion on at least three grounds:

    1. They look nothing alike. One is in a clear bottle wrapped in plastic, the other is in a green bottle.
    2. One glance at the label would show you one’s from Spain, the other France. Why should the US courts care what brands exist in other countries, or be able to prohibit a foreign company from having a similar name to a different foreign company from a different country? I’m missing the jurisdiction here.
    3. Price


  15. The ruling just applies to distribution in the U.S. As Laurie points out, companies have to be vigilant in protecting their trademark; otherwise, they can lose it.


  16. Perhaps Cristal is’t doing as well as they would like and they thought that the publicity might generate a multitude of taste tests. That would be a fun blind tasting.


  17. Frankly though not confused, “knock-off” is the first thing to cross my mind when I first saw Cristalino cava 5 or 6 years ago. “-ino” being diminutive, they’re trying to gain some association with the luxury brand.

    Aren’t prosecco wines with yellow/orange labels typically trying to bank off of Veuve’s brand recognition?


  18. A few years ago, there was a very successful “men’s club” here that was the largest customer in the state for both Cristal and Cristalino. Their going rate for Cristal was $600 which is not unheard of, but their price for the Cristalino, $100, was ridiculous. It was being sold, very successfully, as a less expensive Cristal alternative.


  19. Roederer takes a legal sledge hammer to a fly. If the judge had any palate-which should have been a prerequisite for her to hear this case-she would have dismissed this suit out of hand! Good to see our judiciary is concerning themselves with the truly salient matters of the moment. From this day onward I will assiduously avoid all Roderer wines. Hell, I like a cheap Spanish sparkler!


  20. [...] bar – Beer From a Good Home A Refined Chardonnay in Coastal Sonoma – New York Times Cristal ($299) Defeats Cristalino ($5.99) – Dr. Vino Celebrating Carmenere – The Washington [...]


  21. The trial judge did toss the case a couple of years ago when she first heard it, but the appeals court ruled she had abused her discretion and sent it back for trial. Roederer really didn’t have much choice but to pursue this. If they let it go, they stand a greater chance of losing their trademark protection in the future. There are lots of examples where that has happened.


  22. Those Champagne lawyers will leap on anything that even has a suggestion of purloining their terribly expens… I mean ‘good’ name. This really was a bit of terribly silly minnow chasing by Roederer; as the article points out who is seriously going to confuse the two?

    I really fancy a glass of fizz right now, come to think of it.


  23. About 3-4 months ago I was tableside for a couple’s anniversary and we were discussing terrific Champagnes to start off their evening.

    We were going back and forth between Cristal and Veuve La Grande Dame, when the female guest finally said to her husband “I don’t like Cristalino why would I like Cristal.” At that point I recommended the Dom.

    Good for Cristal as there are plenty of people who will make this mistake. Remember, only rappers, Bravo’s Real Housewives and wine geeks know about Cris(tal that is).


  24. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I would never associate the two… It reminds me of Duckhorn versus Duckwalk and Cote Rotie versus Goats du Roam :), both cases kind of left in limbo.
    And personally, at that price level I would definitely prefer Krug over Cristal…


  25. Honestly, I think the entire legal battle wasn’t much more than a waste of money and a show of power. Sure, the average consumer might have thought Cristalino was a cheaper version of Cristal, but would that average consumer actually purchase a 300$ bottle of Cristal over a 6$ bottle of Cristalino if they knew the difference, emphatically NO! The type of consumer that purchases fine Champagne is NOT “average”, by most peoples definition. I’m very dissapointed with the new labels, they look like crap. I hope Cristalino doesn’t loose any business as a result, I was never worried for Roederer.


  26. Suave- Do you have a picture of the new label?


  27. Check the back of the shelf if you preffer the gold label cristalino. There are still many gold labeled bottles available


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