Wine Spectator Collides with Weed Spectator
Wine Spectator is suing Weed Spectator over trademark infringement. The lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, and the plaintiff is seeking triple damages and an injunction against the use of the Weed Spectator trademark. New York’s M. Shanken Communications Inc., Wine Spectator’s publishing house, alleges that the logos are too similar and that Weed Spectator is also copying their 100-point rating scale.
Wine Spectator is a well-established magazine with nearly three million readers. The magazine is known for its 100-point wine rating system created to help people understand Wine Spectator’s taster’s judgment of a wine’s quality and thus, guide the average Joe in selecting wines. They review more than 15,000 wines from around the world each year.
On January 2, 2018, Sacramento, California’s Modern Wellness Inc., publisher of Weed Spectator, applied for a trademark which, most of us around the table agree, bears a striking resemblance to that of our friends, Wine Spectator. The trademark application is still pending.
As both publications rate products on a 100-point scale, both publication names are quite similar, and their logo fonts are nearly identical, M. Shaken Communications is concerned people could mistakenly believe the two publications are related. The complaint reads “M. Shanken has no interest in associating Wine Spectator and the Wine Spectator marks with cannabis, a largely illegal drug. Any association of this type is likely to tarnish the reputation and goodwill that has been built up in the Wine Spectator marks and business for decades, resulting in dilution of the brand.”
While the logos and publication names do have an uncanny resemblance (not cool), others have used 100-point rating scales for decades. Back in the 1970’s, the 100-point scale system for rating wine was first popularized by Robert Parker, a wine critic for Wine Advocate (which is thought to have been refined from the 20-point rating system that originated at University of California - Davis). Decanter, Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits Magazines also use a 100-point rating system. Heck, my high school used a 100-point rating system. So in short, the 100-point rating system similarity seems hard to argue as an infringement.
To be blunt, the weed market has skyrocketed in recent years. Thirty states have legalized marijuana - either for medical use, recreational use, or both. A recent poll shows 2/3 of respondents were in favor of outright legalization. As the cannabis market continues to grow, people are going to need to know what to buy for their bake sale. Maybe Weed Spectator should change its magazine’s name to Weed Watcher, agree to use a different font, and rate cannabis products on a 100-bud rating scale. Why can’t we all just get along man?
Are you thirsty for more? Subscribe to our blog below, and follow us on social media by clicking the icons at the top of our page. Cheers!
— He and She on Wine