Compliance » “Handmade” On Liquor Labels A Fat Target For Plaintiff Bar

“Handmade” On Liquor Labels A Fat Target For Plaintiff Bar

Hand holding an alcoholic drink,offset printing

June 23, 2015

A current popular trend favoring all things handmade and artisanal has not gone unnoticed by the liquor industry, which has made such terminology part of a number of well-known labels. Plaintiff lawyers have noticed too, and in the past year at least eight liquor manufacturers have been sued in consumer class actions alleging unfair or deceptive practices, according to a post from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman attorneys Christine A. Scheuneman and Elaine Lee. Defendants have included Makers Mark, Jim Beam and Tito’s Vodka. A wide-ranging investigation of the dictionary and a claim that the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had pre-approved their labels were among the strategies of defendants, with mixed results. One court that came down against plaintiffs seemed to suggest that to make their case, plaintiffs would have to prove a negative, by first nailing down what “hand-made” meant when it came to liquor, and then demonstrating that the product wasn’t that.

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