Not everyone in the booze biz is hopping onboard the cannabis wagon. In fact, Wine Spectator’s parent company, M. Shanken Communications, just filed a lawsuit against Weed Spectator, claiming “blatant” trademark infringement.
Weed Spectator is exactly what you think it is: a California based publication focused on marijuana including news and ratings. Yet, case No. 18-08050 in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York contends that this content and style is also just a cheap knockoff of Wine Spectator.
The filing specifically argued that trademark applications from Weed Spectator featured a logo in Wine Spectator’s font along with other ““striking similarities.” (A visit to the Weed Pec site revealed that the logo appears to have been changed recently.) There is also the issue of the names which clearly sound alike.
Additionally, Shanken posited that Wine Spectator’s 100 point ranking system was also ripped off by the cannabis pub. Robert Parker and his friend Victor Morgenroth are widely credited with pioneering the controversial system of tanking wine on a 100 point scale (although their scale is technically 50-100). However, after Marvin Shanken purchased Wine Spectator in 1979, he popularized 100 point rankings with the mainstream wine community.
It’s not just the copyright issue, from the complaint one can deduce that the Wine Spec folks are not down with the THC. “M. Shanken has no interest in associating Wine Spectator and the Wine Spectator marks with cannabis, a largely illegal drug,” the filing read. “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.”
The petition seeks the immediate cessation of any use of the Weed Spectator logo. Oh. Shanken also wants triple damages from Modern Wellness.
Shanken Communications is a powerhouse in the luxury consumables and lifestyle publishing sector. The corporation’s other holdings include Cigar Aficionado, Whisky Advocate, and Shanken News Daily.
Neither publishing company responded to multiple media requests for comment.