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Sunday 4 February 2024

Spirited argument: global giant tries to trademark a date

I'm thinking of trademarking the year 2025 and then charging all the wine companies around the world who want to use it on their labels.

Palpably absurd, of course, but not as absurd as massive Cognac conglomerate Rémy Martin insisting it has the sole rights to the date 1738.

Leading liquor industry website is in conflict with Victor George Spirits in Florida over the use of the date 1738 on its bourbon bottles.

Fort Mosé 1738 Bourbon is named after the first free black town in the United States, declared so by the town’s governor in 1738.

Rémy Martin, however, has a 1738 Accord Royal Cognac that has the same year on its labels “commemorate the reward of excellence bestowed on Rémy Martin by King Louis XV in 1738”.

There is now a trademark dispute with Remy aiming to prevent VGS from using the year on its bourbon.

Victor Harvey (above), founder and CEO of black-owned and operated VGS, told the Miami New Times that he first received notice of the objection from Remy Martin in November last year.

“This originally came as an utter surprise,” Harvey said. “I’m not an attorney, but I’ve never known you could trademark an entire year as part of a trademark.

“We 100% chose the year 1738 because of its significance to black people in America. It was the first year in this country where black people could live free in some regard. That’s our sole reason for using it.”

When VGS first launched its bourbon it agreed to donate US$1 from every bottle sale to the Fort Mosé Historical Society to help with educational programmes and events in order to raise awareness of the historic town in what is now Florida.

Wikipedia says: "Fort Mosé was established as a free black settlement, the first to be legally sanctioned in what would become the territory of the United States".

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