Pellegrini Wine Trademarks Ignite Family Feud

Last week, Pellegrini Bros. Wines (PBW), which owns trademarks in "Pellegrini" and "Olivet Lane Estate," accused Robert Pellegrini of trademark infringement. Robert has served as the Director of Production, Sales and Marketing for PBW since 1987. He is also a director / vice-president and owns 19 percent of PBW's shares. From the Pellegrini website, a little history on the family business:

When Vincent Pellegrini passed away in 1989, Robert, Richard and Jeanne assumed leadership of the wine business, and decided to focus on producing estate-bottled artisan wines of the highest quality.  As part of their commitment to the production of fine wine, in 2001 they built a state-of-the-art winemaking facility on the Olivet Lane Estate.

So what caused PBW to go after one of its own? As with any wine tale, the answer must begin with grapes.

According to the complaint, Robert sold over 7 tons of grapes to Meredith Vineyard Estate (MVE) at an allegedly low price. When questioned about the price, Robert "contended that it was the end of the season and that it was not possible to obtain a higher price."

Later, PBW discovered that MVE had filed a Certification of Label Approval (COLA) for a wine label with the name "R.V. Pellegrini" and "Olivet Lane Vinyard." The label also included the Olivet Lane Vineyard's history and stated that "R.V. Pellegrini Wines" produced the wine. As the complaint goes on to state:

[T]he MVA COLA is for wine produced from the pinot noir grapes ... sold to MVE for below the contracted price and shows that Robert and MVE intended to unfairly compete with PBW by selling wines using the PBW Marks without authorization.

PBW's Pellegrini mark has been in use since 1933; its Olivet Lane Estate mark, since 1985.  

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