Law and wine… not always a pleasure….

While law and a bit of the red stuff are, shall we say,  interests of mine -  the two together do not always give pleasure.  I was tipped off  by  Thirstforwine (a fellow Twitterer) about the rather absurd behaviour of  Ernst & Julio Gallo who threatened to sue a small Seattle wine and food retailer for importing pasta called ‘Gallo’.  The fact that Gallo is pasta,  and not even people with suspiciously long arms  would confuse pasta with wine, was of little interest to E & J Gallo.  They hired an attorney.  The attorney told The Spanish Table to cease and desist or be sued.

I enter a caveat here. I am assuming that the report upon which I draw accurately represents the events that happened – a not unreasonable assumption as the story is still, at the time of writing, online and the online source is a Wine magazine/blog.

The retailers, the report states, were shocked that the first contact was through a lawyer and made the entirely reasonable point that had someone from E & J Gallo (and I want you to remember that name) contacted them to discuss their concerns they would have been open to discussion. Rather than face a costly legal fight, the retailers wrote to the attorney asking whether the pasta should be given away to a food bank or be destroyed.

E & J Gallo, it seems, wanted more than their pound of pasta.  They wanted name, rank and serial number of the importers of the Gallo pasta…. Ok… I exaggerate… they wanted to know the identity of  the importer of the GALLO pasta. The retailers declined to do so. At this point the reports states The Gallo attorney would no longer communicate with them at all, only with their attorney, in essence, forcing them to hire one. They say that they were given an April 16th deadline to hire an attorney and cease pasta sales, however, Gallo officially filed suit ahead of their own deadline on April 14th.”

While I fully understand and accept that brand owners wish to protect their brands, there is a whiff of the unpleasant about this matter.  Big organisations playing “the heavy” with small organisations is never particularly edifying and less so when  they use oppressive legal tactics and then resile from their own stated plan of action.

However, be that as it may…  and whatever the merits in law in that US state may be – my own view, as a wine drinker’  is that E & J Gallo behaved oppressively.  A quick bit of research on Google revealed that Gallo is a fairly common name in Italy, there is a hotel called Gallo, it is a romance language also and there are several types of Gallo pasta.

I have drunk wines from  Ernst & Julio Gallo. I would be grateful if you would keep this information to yourselves – lest people  point me out to their families in the street and say ‘”There he is… the man who drank an Ernst & Julio Gallo wine.”   They are not to my taste, although they do… do the business.

I am toying now, as I drink a glass of an excellent Rioja – not, of course, produced by E & J Gallo -  with the idea of  manufacturing suppositories and importing them into the USA.  I shall call them GALL-O.  This, of course, is an acronym for Greased Anal Liquid Laxative – Optimised.

Optimised for easy insertion.

Perhaps The Spanish Table, the retailer, would like some to send to the attorney when they return his papers?

6 thoughts on “Law and wine… not always a pleasure….

  1. Love it ! – big unreasonable guy v little reasonable guy – hope the little guy wins……

    Thanks a million too for the “fail” stamp, a work of genius!

  2. The Spanish Table is a trademark holder. We have no argument with trademark protection. Our issue is whether specialty food retailers should have access to legitimate, established foreign brands. Pastas Gallo’s brand dates to 1874. Gallo Wine is the junior mark having only been used since 1933. What The Spanish Table offers our customers is genuineness: Genuine flavors, bona fide ingredients, authentic brands. Pastas Gallo fideo meets those criteria.
    - Steve Winston, Owner, The Spanish Table

  3. I am sure that very many more people now know of plucky Seattle based The Spanish Kitchen.

    In practice trademark law is designed to protect those with a large legal budget.

    I have found that a small firm with a trademark (in The UK) needs to put quite a bit of money on the table before considering defending a trademark infringement by large firm with a large legal budget.

    From this case it looks like the solution looks like good PR and the media.

    Warren Edwardes
    Wine for Spice Limited

    Wine for Spice is a registered trademark of Wine for Spice Limited

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