Kentucky-made bourbon Maker’s Mark is the only alcoholic beverage allowed to be covered with a red wax seal, that is the decision that was reached this week by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court ruled on Wednesday that the seal was distinctive enough to the alcohol beverage that using a similar seal at other manufacturers could cause confusion among consumers.
Maker’s Mark, created by the Samuels family in 1958, sued Diageo North America and Casa Cuervo of Mexico in 2003 after bottles began using similar red seals on select bottles of Reserva tequila.
While Cuervo dropped the dripped wax seal six years ago the case didn’t officially end until last Wednesday when the court released a 19-page opinion that affirmed an injunction Maker’s Mark had received in 2010 that required all other liquor companies to drop the use of red wax seals.
In the opinion the justices wrote:
“There is more than one way to seal a bottle with wax to make it look appealing. … We conclude that there is a likelihood of confusion between the products and that Cuervo has infringed.”
Margie Samuels came up with red wax seal idea when she began melting wax in the family’s deep fryer and then dipping each bottle individually. Even in 2012 each bottle of Maker’s Mark is still hand dipped in red hot wax.
It should be noted that dipping the bottles in red wax serves no practical purpose for the beverage but is instead used foe decorative purposes.
Do you think Maker’s Mark should own the right to red wax seals?