Trouble in Paradise: Buffett Wins Trademark Case Against Marijuanaville

Trouble in Paradise: Buffett Wins Trademark Case Against Marijuanaville

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© Stock Pot Images / Kristen Angelo

A woman in Colorado lost her dream of opening the Marijuanaville cannabis brand and clothing shop when a judge ruled the term was too close to Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville” empire. According to the ruling, “Margaritaville” is more than a song – it’s a brand that owns the feeling of ‘a chemically induced mental paradise’.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with Buffett’s side, saying the cannabis-related name was confusingly similar to Buffett’s song, “Margaritaville”.

Judge Angela Lykos stated in the court report how both Marijuanaville and Margaritaville call to mind “a chemically induced mental paradise.” The report continued, “There are dozens of Margaritaville branded resorts, casinos, bars, restaurants and stores in the U.S. and abroad as well as product lines ranging from barbecue sauce to lawn furniture to apparel to margarita makers.”

“[The Margaritaville] board said consumers would likely think stores bearing the pot-themed name were an “extension of [Buffett]’s lifestyle brand,” notes the trademark experts at the Law360 blog.

The idea to brand Marijuanaville was sparked by Coloradan Rachel Bevis. In 2014, she requested to register Marijuanaville as a trademark for a retail store and clothing company. But Buffett has been licensing restaurants and other merchandise using the trademark since 1985.

“Combining ‘Margarita’ and ‘Marijuana’ with ‘-ville’ results in coined marks connoting a ‘state of being’ associated with either a cocktail or marijuana,” board Judge Lykos writes. “The overall connotation and commercial impression of the marks is highly similar – a chemically induced mental paradise.”

This new ruling prevents her from moving forward with her plans, but according to legal experts, she can appeal the board’s ruling to a federal district court for new proceedings or directly challenge it to the Federal Circuit.

Don’t mess with the Margaritaville empire

This is not the first time the margarita man has triumphed in the trademark category.

The Hollywood Reporter reported that Jimmy Buffett settled a similar trademark dispute in 2012, this time with a restaurant owner in Florida.

The restaurant was called the Martiniville Liquor Bar & Kitchen. Buffett’s company charged the vodka copycats with infringement claims on his “Margaritaville” trademark.

At the time, SQR magazine reported the defendant changed the restaurant’s name to the Martini Bistro after realizing that the threat of a $750,000 payout was “not worth the risk.”

Jimmy Buffett has built an internationally recognized brand out of his 1977 song. The “Margaritaville” state of mind has been built into a brand of restaurants, resorts, casinos, apparel, and even an ice blender. The newest addition to his list of offerings is a boozy-lifestyle themed retirement community in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The retirement community is “for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up,” John Cohlan, CEO of Margaritaville, said in a press release.

“Margaritaville,” was a song on Buffett’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” album – and the song remains his top seller to this day.

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