The Wild Geese Whiskey has won a landmark Australian trademark action. In a unanimous decision by five Australian Federal Court judges, the independent Wild Geese Irish whiskey brand can now enter the Australian market.
This action, initiated by Pernod Ricard in 2002 and then taken up by Campari when Wild Turkey was sold, sought to secure the ‘Wild Geese’ trademark in Australia and thus prevent the Wild Geese Irish Whiskey from trading in an important Irish whiskey market
Pernod Ricard, then owners of Wild Turkey, tried to prevent The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey from market entry into the Irish whiskey category. Overall this activity has comprised several geographies and over 50 actions over 14 years, following the refusal by The Wild Geese to comply with Pernod Ricard’s demands that it be granted the right of veto where The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey could be sold in competition with Jameson..
In an attempt to limit the reach of The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey, Wild Turkey took assignment of the ‘Wild Geese’ trademark from Wild Geese Wines in Australia in 2007. This latest action has subsequently found that while the ‘Wild Geese’ trademark had been used by Wild Turkey between 2007 and 2010 it was done so incorrectly.
Such was the strength of the appeal that the five presiding judges unanimously found for The Wild Geese and awarded indemnity costs.
Commenting on the decision, Ándre Levy co-founder and chairman, The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey stated: “This is an important day for us and the Irish Whiskey industry as a whole. The Wild Geese Irish Whiskey has been involved in a 14 year legal battle with Pernod Ricard involving over 50 separate actions around the world, all of which we have successfully defended. This includes the USA where The Wild Geese is sold as The Wild Geese Soldiers & Heroes.
These actions sought to limit the market access of the Wild Geese Irish Whiskey and other smaller independent brands of which we are a representative. Despite the supposed renaissance of Irish whiskey, the reality is that the industry is still dominated by large organisations such as Pernod Ricard.
We continue to fight for our right to contribute to the Irish whiskey category, which we have been a part of since 1999. Therefore, to ensure our continued growth and success, we have been forced to buy Irish whiskey at a premium from third parties who have been able to access whiskey that we are unable to purchase directly from large producers.
Big company tactics are designed to remove competition. We epitomise the spirit of The Wild Geese; it’s not just an abstract - something that big company may wish to reflect upon.”
18 July 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor