Courtesy Bill Wyman/The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese Wins 14-Year Legal Battle Against Wild Turkey

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After 14 years of legal battles against spirits giant Pernod Ricard, The Wild Geese will now be able to sell its Irish whiskey in Australia.

According to New Zealand’s Stuff, the complicated case began in 2002, when Pernod Ricard—Wild Turkey’s then-owner—launched legal action claiming that The Wild Geese Irish whiskey could be too easily confused with Wild Turkey bourbon. To complicate the case even further, Pernod Ricard managed to secure the “Wild Geese” trademark from a small Australian Winery, Wild Geese Wines, in 2007 and, after re-leasing the name back to the winery, successfully blocked the whiskey brand from entering the Australian market.

If not used within three years and one month, however, trademarks can lapse—which is how The Wild Geese was able to allege non-use of the trademark and challenge Pernod Ricard once again. The small brand continued the fight against Gruppo Campari when it took ownership of Wild Turkey in 2013.

Now, more than a decade after the legal battle began, the case is finally closed. Five federal judges recently ruled unanimously in favor of The Wild Geese, finding that while Pernod Ricard had used the trademark in that time, it had done so incorrectly. Now, the victorious Irish whiskey brand will be able to register for its own trademark, allowing it to finally sell its product in Australia.

“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,” Ándre Levy, The Wild Geese co-founder and chairman, said in a press release. “Despite the supposed renaissance of Irish Whiskey, the reality is that the industry is still dominated by large organisations such as Pernod Ricard.”

This is just one in a string of more than 50 similar cases Wild Turkey’s parent companies have brought against The Wild Geese over the past 15 years. It is the brand’s biggest win to date.

“We continue to fight for our right to contribute to the Irish Whiskey category, which we have been a part of since 1999,” said Levy. “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.”
 

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