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Illinois craft distiller dismisses trademark case against Gray Skies Distillery FILE COURTESY IMAGES

Illinois craft distiller dismisses trademark case against Gray Skies Distillery

BY Tuesday, April 03, 2018 08:00am

GRAND RAPIDS — Two craft distilleries have agreed to a negotiated settlement in a trademark dispute stemming from a November lawsuit.

Evanston, Ill.-based Few Spirits LLC has agreed to dismiss a federal lawsuit against Grand Rapids-based Gray Skies Distillery LLC over its use of the name “Breakfast Rye” for a rye whiskey it started selling in December, according to documents filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Gray Skies co-owner Brandon Voorhees declined to comment on the settlement, but said the company will use the Breakfast Rye name, label and artwork for future releases of the spirit. Additionally, Gray Skies also plans to release another spirit under the name “Breakfast Bourbon” later this summer, he said.

The local legal counsel for Few Spirits deferred to the company’s primary counsel, who did not respond to a request for comment before this report was published.

The dispute stemmed from a November lawsuit in which Few Spirits alleged Gray Skies’ product infringed on its trademark for “Breakfast Gin,” a spirit that had been on the market since 2011. Few trademarked the name in January 2016. The company had been demanding that Gray Skies stop selling Breakfast Rye, destroy all its labels, surrender its federal label approval, reimburse Few for damages and pay attorney fees and court costs.

At the time, Gray Skies’ legal counsel said the company planned to “defend this vigorously,” as MiBiz previously reported.

According to court documents, the two parties agreed to dismiss the case in its entirety without prejudice — meaning it could be reopened in the future — and that each party would bear its own fees and costs.

Gray Skies aged its Breakfast Rye whiskey in new charred oak barrels and then finished it for six months in maple syrup casks, which gave the spirit a subtle sweetness, according to the company’s tasting notes on the product.

The company used the name for the whiskey after someone tasted a sample and said that “it smells like breakfast,” the company said at the product’s release.

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