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‘Prince Was A Teetotaler’: Winery’s Novel Defence in ‘Purple Rain’ Trademark Dispute

Ohio-based L’uva Bella Winery is defending its right to sell “Purple Rain” wine, saying Prince famously “despised alcohol,” so there’s no consumer confusion

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007, file photo, Prince performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI football game in Miami. The saga to settle Prince's estate provides a cautionary tale about what can happen when someone dies without leaving a will, as he did when he died of an accidental opioid overdose at his Paisley Park studio April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)


An Ohio winery now locked in a legal battle with Prince’s estate has floated a novel defense for its “Purple Rain” trademark, saying the late musician’s famed aversion to alcohol means consumers would never link his legacy to its adult beverages.

“To the extent Prince was famous, he was equally famous for his disdain of alcohol,” lawyers for L’uva Bella Winery write in a new motion filed with the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board amid the ongoing dispute.

“Prince was a teetotaler who despised alcohol,” the filing obtained by Rolling Stone continues. “Prince never lent his name to any product or enterprise during his lifetime, and never endorsed or promoted any products, let alone any products bearing the name ‘Purple Rain.’ The fans of Prince, knowledgeable about his beliefs and views, would never associate an alcohol-containing product with the artist.”

The winemaker is asserting the new defense after Prince’s estate sued last summer, demanding cancellation of the “Purple Rain” trademark awarded to L’uva in 2019, three years after the Grammy winner’s accidental overdose death. The estate cited a “likelihood of confusion” and “false suggestion of a connection” with the superstar artist as grounds for its petition.

The federal board has yet to rule on the dispute previously reported by Billboard.

“The estate protects the intellectual property Prince created during his lifetime, including his image and the trademark ‘Purple Rain,’ which is strongly associated with him. Comerica, as the court-appointed personal representative [of the estate], has a fiduciary duty to protect the estate’s intellectual property and brought this proceeding pursuant to that duty,” lawyers for the estate say in a statement to Rolling Stone.

“‘Purple Rain’ is Prince’s most famous song, album, tour, movie, etc., and there can be no doubt that ‘Purple Rain’ signifies Prince. Prince is also undisputedly one of the most famous musicians of all time,” they espouse in their filings.

In January, the estate asked the federal board to grant its cancellation request without a trial. L’uva’s lawyers responded by saying they deserved a chance to proceed through discovery. They also called the estate’s actions “contrary to the beliefs, views, and the teachings of the now deceased artist.”

L’uva currently sells its “multi-award winning Purple Rain Concord” wine on its website for $7.99 per bottle.

From Rolling Stone US