Battle Over Thank You Trademark on Wine Bottles

By: Kerana Todorov

A Southern California company is in federal court over the right to use its trademark “THANK YOU” on its wine labels, according to court records.

Hidden Wineries Inc. of Temecula is challenging a 2017 decision by the administrative board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to declare its trademark “THANK YOU” abandoned. On April 11, the company filed a complaint against Modern House LLC of Oakville. Modern House is based at Swanson Vineyards, a division of Vintage Wine Estates of Santa Rosa.

Modern House’s lawyers in 2014 petitioned federal officials that Hidden Wineries had abandoned its trademark “THANK YOU.” In August, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, sided with Modern House and issued a ruling to cancel “THANK YOU.”

That decision cleared the way for Modern House to register its own trademarks “MERCI” and “THANK YOU MODERN HOUSE” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Modern House had not been able to register “MERCI” with the Patent and Trademark Office for years.

Federal officials in 2013 declined to approve Modern House’s applications to register “MERCI” and “THANK YOU MODERN HOUSE,” stating these labels would create confusion with Hidden Wineries’ “THANK YOU” mark. “Merci” means “thank you” in French.

In 2014, Modern House filed a petition to cancel Hidden Wineries’ trademark. An attorney argued Modern House “is and will continue to be injured and damaged” by the existing trademark “THANK YOU,” according to records on file with the Patent and Trademark Office.

In its lawsuit, Hidden wineries, seeks a ruling that it never abandoned the trademark. Hidden House’s trademark “THANK YOU” was approved in 2010. Alcoholic Beverage Control records indicate Madonna Mahoney of Temecula is Hidden Wineries’ chief executive officer.