Executives at Cartier jeweler believe the Napa winery's label looks too familiar
In what looks like a case of Goliath vs. David, Cartier the jeweler
thinks that Carter the wine brand's label is too familiar-looking and is
suing the Napa vintner to change its look. The famous jeweler and
watchmaker, based in Switzerland, filed suit in U.S. District Court in
California in October 2013, in effect asking vintner Mark Carter, owner
of Carter Cellars, to change his label. Cartier believes the Carter
trademark looks too much like Cartier’s and wants Carter Cellars to
change its trademark font and color scheme.
Vintner Carter, who founded Carter Cellars in 1998 and is also the owner of a Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning restaurant, Restaurant 301 in Eureka,
also known as the Carter House, says he has no intention of changing
anything. He maintains the two logos don’t look the same and appear on
products that appeal to different audiences. His winery makes about
1,500 cases of Napa Valley Cabernet, Merlot and blends.
Carter said Cartier first brought up the label issue in 2004, and
then dropped the matter until about a year ago, when a new team of
lawyers for the jeweler asked him to change the label. Carter is being
defended by his insurance company, California Insurance Group.
Cartier's attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. Their
complaint, filed this past October, claims the Carter name on the wine
labels is too similar to Cartier in script style and color. "Defendants
use of their confusingly similar Carter script mark is likely to confuse
consumers into mistakenly believing that defendants' wine products are
made, provided, authorized, endorsed or sponsored by Cartier." The
jeweler has not asked for specific monetary damages, but asked the court
to award it "such damages it has sustained or will sustain" due to
trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The two sides have been in court in recent weeks, and have sought
mediation, but are now in what Carter called a “cooling off” period
before resuming or dropping the legal action. A hearing is scheduled for
Carter isn’t the only Carter in the wine business. Carter Vineyard is
located in Oregon, Carter Estate Winery is located in Southern
California, while Jack Carter & the Armory is located in
Gibsonville, Va. All the Carters have agreed they are entitled to use
their names, according to Mark Carter. While Cartier is best known for
its watches and jewelry, it does produce a Cuvée Cartier Champagne to
pour at events and in stores.