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Champage Louis Roederer v. J. Garcia Carrion, S.A, et al, No. 08-2907 (8th Cir. June 24, 2009)

Champage Louis Roederer v. J. Garcia Carrion, S.A, et al, No. 08-2907 (8th Cir. June 24, 2009)

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Published by Chris Sullivan
Eighth Circuit opinion reversing dismissal on summary judgment on the grounds that the claims were barred by laches.
Eighth Circuit opinion reversing dismissal on summary judgment on the grounds that the claims were barred by laches.

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Published by: Chris Sullivan on Jun 25, 2009
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09/02/2014

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United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT
___________
No. 08-2907__________Champagne Louis Roederer,**Appellant,**Appeal from the United Statesv.*District Court for the*District of Minnesota.*J. Garcia Carrion, S.A.;*Friend Wine Marketing, Inc., *d/b/aCIV USA,**Appellees.*___________Submitted:March 10, 2009Filed:June 24, 2009___________Before MURPHY, MELLOY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.Champagne Louis Roederer (“Roederer”) appeals the district court’s dismissalon summary judgment of its trademark infringement suit against J. Garcia Carrion,S.A. (“Carrion”) and Friend Wine Marketing, Inc., d/b/a CIV USA (“CIV USA”) onthe ground that Roederer’s suit was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches. Wereverse and remand.
 
-2-I.Roederer is a wine producer incorporated under the laws of France. Roedererproduces, among other things, an expensive champagne that is sold under the name“Cristal.” Created in 1876 as the official wine of the Imperial Court of Russia for TsarAlexander II, Cristal has achieved significant notoriety, as the appellees put it, as thechampagne of the “tsars and the stars.” Roederer has registered the trademark “CRISTAL CHAMPAGNE” and the trademark and design “CRISTALCHAMPAGNE LR” in the United States.Carrion is a Spanish corporation owned by Priesca, another Spanishcorporation. Jaume Serra is a Spanish winery also owned by Priesca. In August 1998,Jaume Serra and Carrion merged into a single entity operating under the Carrionname.Jaume Serra began making cava, a type of sparkling wine distinct fromchampagne, in 1984. By 1987, Jaume Serra was selling cava under the names“Cristalino Jaume Serra” or “Cristalino.” By 1989, Jaume Serra was selling Cristalinocava in the United States. Early sales were small, but by 1997 Cristalino sales hadgrown to nearly 400,000 bottles in the United States.CIV USA is an importer. CIV USA began importing Jaume Serra wine into theUnited States in either 1991 or 1992. CIV USA currently imports, distributes, andmarkets Carrion products in the United States.Roederer successfully objected to Jaume Serra’s attempt to register the“CRISTALINO” mark in Spain in 1989. Roederer filed a similar objection to theregistration of the “CRISTALINO JAUME SERRA” mark in Colombia in 1991, butabandoned the proceedings in 2000 for unexplained reasons. Similarly, Roederer at
 
-3-first opposed Jaume Serra’s application to register “CRISTALINO JAUME SERRA”in the United States, but abandoned that opposition in 1997.Agents of Roederer first learned that Cristalino was being sold in the UnitedStates in 1995. During proceedings unrelated to the appellees before the United StatesPatent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), Roederer’s attorneys came across an affidavitindicating that “a sparkling wine from Spain called Cristalino” had been found on saleat a Cost Plus store in California on June 8, 1995.After the merger of Carrion and Jaume Serra, Carrion began modernizing andexpanding its winery facilities because, as it acknowledges, Jaume Serra’s facilitieswere antiquated at the time of the merger. Carrion spent 14 million euros from 1997to 2002 improving Jaume Serra’s cava production. These improvements were notdirected solely at Cristalino cava, as Carrion produces three different brands of cava,plus several “private label” cavas for retailers. The renovations increased the totaloutput of the Jaume Serra plant from 4 million bottles in 1997 to 15 million in 2003.Of the 15 million bottles produced in 2003 at the Jaume Serra plant, approximately1.3 million of the bottles were Cristalino, or about 9%.In February 2002, Carrion’s United States intent-to-use trademark applicationto register the “CRISTALINO” mark was published for opposition. In June and July2002, Roederer responded with cease-and-desist letters requesting that Carrionwithdraw its application for the “CRISTALINO” mark. Carrion refused. Aftersettlement talks failed, Roederer filed its notice of opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“Trademark Board”). Roederer filed the present lawsuit inJanuary 2006, and Roederer’s opposition before the Trademark Board was stayedpending this suit. The district court dismissed on summary judgment Roederer’s suit fortrademark infringement on the ground that its claims were barred by the equitable

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