Pucker Up!

In JL Beverage Company, LLC v. Beam, Inc. a Nevada court ruled that the use of a woman’s lip print on a vodka label was not confusingly similar to another vodka brand that also uses lip marks in its logos.

JL Beverage Company, LLC created a line of flavored and unflavored vodka called “Johnny Love,” which featured a woman’s lip print as its logo. The plaintiff used the lip print as the “O” in the “Johnny Love” logo. It registered two stylized marks in connection with this vodka.

JL Beverage Company 1 JL Beverage Company 5 JL Beverage Company 4 JL Beverage Company 3 JL Beverage Company 2

Beam, Inc. created a line of flavored vodka called “Pucker Vodka,” which also featured a prominent lip image in the center of the label.

Pucker Vodka by Beam, Inc.
Pucker Vodka by Beam, Inc.

Both brands varied the color of the lips depending on the flavor of vodka.

When evaluating the marks, the count noted that the lip prints were presented differently on the label. The Court also noted that lip prints, “like snowflakes and fingerprints,” were significantly different from one another.

What is the take away from this case? Using common design elements makes it more difficult to prevent competitors from also using these design components in their branding. The more unique and out of the ordinary your graphics and literal elements are, the stronger you’ll have in future enforcement activity.