Libation Law Blog

Alcoholic Beverage and Cannabis Regulatory and Legal Updates

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Sometimes the USPTO doesn’t always catch when a business tries to trademark words that have significant meaning in an industry or are descriptive. After all, industries are vast and work-specific lexicons aren’t always published, nor do applicants always properly disclose when a mark has an industry specific or related meaning.  It looks like JaM Cellars was able to trademark versions of both JaM and Butter a few years back (but many many years after the use of the words “jammy” and “buttery” were already classical descriptors for wine) and has been involved in multiple suits against other wineries/wine groups regarding…
E&J Gallo brought this suit against the United States and the US’s contractor, Pestmaster after the US (through the Bureau of Reclamation) hired Pestmaster as a contractor to provide weed abatement services for facilities and properties in the Central Valley Project. Under the contract with the government, Pestmaster had discretion for determining when, how, and what herbicide to apply. The contract required Pestmaster to abide by applicable federal and state laws and to submit a spray management work plan before the start of work. The requirements included submission of a plan to “prevent the unauthorized release of any…
This case follows a long line of parody grounded first amendment awesomeness with the freedom trumping companies and regulators that don’t get the joke.  A dog toy company had lost at the trial court level where the district court had found against its “Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker” toy for canines in favor of Tennessee Whiskey producer Jack Daniel’s and enjoined the toy maker from manufacturing its dog toy that looked like a bottle of Jack Daniel’s old No. 7 with humorous content written on the label. What humorous content you ask? Well, here are the two toys side-by-side: The…
In the past few weeks we’ve seen plenty of bars, restaurants and other hospitality based businesses file putative coverage actions against their insurers claiming that the business interruption insurance they purchased from insurance companies that have issues blanket denials of coverage under those policies. Businesses impacted by COVID-19 should be aware of these lawsuits and arguments as it is not a certainty that the blanket denials of coverage are proper and that no coverage is owed under property-damage based business interruption insurance. These lawsuits (links to complaints for your review and edification) have included: The Billy Goat Tavern (No Pepsi
In a contract the dispute over whether a contract exists and whether payment for the processing and production of winterized CBD oil is due, the two parties, a buyer and a seller exchanged correspondence with the seller threatening to take the buyer to court if the seller wasn’t paid. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Kentucky buyer went to court before the Oregon seller and filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the $9MM contract invalid arguing it rested on a condition precedent which required the buyer to raise $2MM in capital and that the hemp oil needed to meet…
Kentucky HB 415 became law last week following passage by the Kentucky General Assembly a few weeks back. The new law effectuates direct-to-consumer shipping from alcohol producers through shipping resulting in direct delivery to consumers.  ASIDE ON SHIPPING AND DELIVERY: Shipping is the act of sending something to someone and delivery is what happens when it arrives. Delivery is the end result of shipping – the two are not mutually exclusive or separate or distinct methods of transportation – as some poorly crafted state laws (not this KY one, btw) are drafted to suggest. END ASIDE The new alcohol shipping…
We’ve been covering the recent updates to the new federal regulations related to labeling and advertising for alcoholic beverages as they related to the three commodities referenced in Notice 176. So far, we’ve covered, malt beverages and wine. Today we write about the changes to advertising and labeling for distilled spirits. The currently set changes to come out of Notice 176 (and there will be others) for the labeling and advertising of distilled spirits are as follows: The definition of distilled spirits gets an update. In an amendment to 27 CFR 5.11 the TTB will clarify that the…
Yesterday we wrote about the recent updates to the new federal regulations related to labeling and advertising for alcoholic beverages as they relate to malt beverages. Today we write about the changes to advertising and labeling for wine. The currently set changes to come out of  Notice 176 (and there will be others) for the labeling and advertising of wine are as follows: Citrus wines are a thing of the past. Well, you’ll still get them, but the standard of identity that made them their own thing under 27 CFR 4.21(d) as opposed to just being another type of…
The TTB has published its final rule amending the regulations for the labeling and advertising of malt beverages, wine, and distilled spirits. We’re going to take some time to go through the rule and its attendant new regulations like we did with the proposal so you can get comfortable with the new changes and be armed to reach out to your liquor lawyer to ask follow-up questions. Please note that this is not the totality of changes to come out of Notice 176. There were plenty of comments and issues raised with Notice 176 that the TTB still…
The Supreme Court denied Connecticut Fine Wine’s request for review of the Second Circuit denial of its challenge to Connecticut’s alcoholic beverage post-and-hold, minimum pricing, and volume discount laws. So, despite the great dissent over the 2nd Circuit’s refusal to hear the case en banc, the challenge that many commentators hoped would end a circuit split over the enforceability of some state-mandated pricing legislation will not be an issue before the court in the near future. You can read our analysis of the initial opinion and get some background on the different provisions regarding alcohol sales that Connecticut Fine Wines…
  Yesterday, the TTB announced the postponement of tax payment and other filing due dates due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The notification takes the form of a circular, TTB Industry Circular 2020-2. It is specifically premised on the Executive’s instruction to Treasury to provide relief to Americans adversely affected by the COVID-19 emergency. In the circular, the TTB offers assistance to businesses like breweries, wineries and distilleries during the crisis with the following: Postponing tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes. Postponing filing due dates for…
We’ve been keeping a running list of loans and grants that can provide assistance to Illinois’s hospitality industry. That group of breweries, wineries, hotels, restaurants, distilleries and bars in Illinois hit hard by the stay at home orders essentially making it illegal for many of them to operate in the fashion they were designed to operate with dine-in and consumption on-premises. One of the programs, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Opportunity’s Hospitality Emergency Grant Program as $14 Million in fund to help Illinois small businesses impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns. But you need to apply by tomorrow, April 1, by…
The lack of coherent information combined with social media rumor mills led the Illinois Liquor Control Commission to issue a stern rebuke regarding the greatly exaggerated claims that alcohol sales were banned, being banned, partially banned, etc., today. The misinformation sparked the following rebuke: ILCC – Notice Alcohol Sales Continue Additionally, to clear up some misconceptions about what bars and restaurants can sell to go, the ILCC also put out a bulletin regarding pre-mixed drinks or cocktails. In short, it is not OK to sell pre-mixed cocktails “to go” or for delivery. That’s pre-mixed drinks in non-original containers for…
On March 28, Governor Pritzker signed an Executive Order (it’s EO #2020-17, but we’re doing a weird thing in Illinois by keeping track of the “COVID-19” orders as well, so it’s also got this weird COVID-19 EO No. 15 moniker) extending the current March 30 (already extended from March 16) deadline for Illinois’s new craft grower, infuser and transporter licenses to April 30. Which means that the applications likely won’t get scored and awarded by July 1, but no news on that deadline yet. Here’s the full text: EXECUTIVE ORDER IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (COVID-19 EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 15)…
Molson Coors has prevailed over Future Proof in Future Proofs attempt to secure a preliminary injunction against Molson to prohibit Molson from producing its “Vizzy” branded hard seltzers on account of a likelihood of confusion with Future Proof’s “Brizzy” hard seltzers.  As we wrote back in February, for this lawsuit to have legs, a court would necessarily have to find that by calling a hard seltzer “Brizzy” the beverage company making the hard seltzer had secured for itself the entire market of “izzy” ending beverage names (potentially beyond hard seltzer, even) which would be nonsense in a category of beverages…
Hopefully we’ll be updating this list soon and often with news of new government programs and available funds meant to stem the tide of the financial crisis caused for the hospitality (and hospitality adjacent) businesses by the epidemic. If we are missing resources and you have them to share, please hit us up through the contact page and we’ll get them posted. At present, here are resources for you: 1. The SBA Disaster Relief:  What’s this about: You can read our previous piece on the SBA Disaster Relief here. Basically all Illinois small businesses can now apply for low-interest…