Château Mouton Rothschild Loses Trademark Fight Against Flying Mouton

by T+B Blog Team on November 21, 2012

If you’re a wine drinker, you may have heard of Château Mouton Rothschild. The historic French wine estate dates back to the 1800s and its owners, the Rothschild family is a member of the Primum Familiae Vini (“the leading wine families”), an exclusive association limited to just 12 members. Its Mouton Cadet wines are sold in more than 150 countries around the world.

Travel further east and a bit south to New Zealand and there you’ll find a brand of wine known as Flying Mouton from Osawa Wines.

The owner of Mouton Rothschild, Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, had accused Osawa Wines of trademark infringement, but New Zealand’s Intellectual Property Office has rejected the complaint, ending a two-year legal fight. Osawa Wines had also filed trademark applications for Flying Mouton in Japan and Australia.

Osawa Wines claimed that its use of the word “mouton” is meant to be a translation of the French word for “sheep” and referenced the vineyard’s origins as a sheep farm. In fact, the wine’s label displays an image of a flying sheep. Osawa’s General Manager told Decanter.com that “. . . we did not set out to infringe on Rothschild’s trademark. That is why on every back label of our Flying Mouton wine, we specially mentioned that Mouton refers to sheep.”

Do you see a likelihood of confusion?

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