Gallo(w)’s Humor

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Yesterday afternoon I was checking my e-mail when I got this message from CafePress. Lucky for me that I opened it – there was nothing on it to say that it came from CafePress – just the sender’s name and the title “Notice of IP Violation.” But I did open it, and this is what it said:

Dear Shopkeeper,

Thank you for using CafePress.com!

In accordance with our Intellectual Property Rights Policy, (A Lawyer’s name) on behalf of E. & J. Gallo Winery provided us with a notice stating that your use of the “GALLO” mark infringes upon their intellectual property rights (trademark). Please click here for more information about intellectual property.

Accordingly, we have set the content that is alleged to infringe the rights of the third party to “pending status” which disables said content from being displayed in your shop or purchased by the public. You may review the content set to pending status by logging into your CafePress.com account and clicking on the “Media Basket” link. The content set to pending status will be highlighted red.

If you believe that you hold the rights to the content alleged to infringe the rights of the third party, we encourage you to contact the alleged rights holder directly for a resolution to this matter. Below please find the contact information for the party alleging infringement.

So, I looked on my site. At first, I looked at my Vive La Raclette! design, since there is a bottle of wine on the design. But, as I thought, there was no brand name on the wine bottle. Surely this would be the logical connection, right?el-gallo-1.jpg

But no – it was not that. It was my El Gallo Loteria card shirt. I altered a card from a knock-off deck, and would have still been surprised to hear from someone. But still, if I had heard from anyone, I would thought it would be Don Clemente, the Loteria people.

So, thinking that this was some sort of misunderstanding, I sent back this explanation:

Regarding the letter below – I have already sent an e-mail clarifying the images mentioned. They are part of a Loteria deck (Loteria is a Spanish version of Bingo that uses words, numbers and images). El Gallo means ROOSTER in Spanish and is a standard card in the deck. I hope this clears things up – the image has nothing to do with wine at all.

Since these guys are in California, I got a response last night. Seems I’m wrong:

Dear Ms. Williams:

The producer of these cards made the same argument to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. They were enjoined for violating my client’s intellectual property rights and my client was awarded $500,000 in attorneys fees and costs. That was in 1995, and they have not sold these items in the United States since that time. Since the producer made these same arguments, lost, was fined, and was enjoined, it is difficult for me to give those same arguments any credence when made by someone who is using the enjoined images. That is why we asked that the images be removed, and that is undoubtedly why Café Press has honored our request. I hope this clarifies matters.

So, Gallo owns the word “gallo” – I wonder if Spanish-speakers know this? I could not believe this was true, but I did find one reference to the case at Elsewhere.org, who posts several Loteria decks on their site, including a very hard-to-find 1960’s version that is out of print. Here is his explanation:

(A representative of Xochico explained) why the company/brand has so many different names: “Pasatiempos Gallo”, “Don Clemente”, “Clemente Jacques”, “CYPSA”. Pasatiempos Gallo was acquired by CYPSA, sued by Gallo Winery and enjoined from doing business in the US using the Gallo name, hence “Don Clemente”. They still do business as Pasatiempos Gallo in Mexico, and Clemente Jacques is the brand name that eventually was used just for foods.

I am so stupified. I hid the shop, and plan to remove the images. If I do come up with my own Rooster Loteria card, I guess I will have to call it “El Gallito”! This is too wacky to make up!

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5 responses »

  1. That is incredibly bizarre. I can see the winery lawyers defending the word “Gallo” as part of a business name, but in the context of a single non-wine-related image? I can’t imagine that their trademark extends to all possible uses of the word.

    On further investigation, huh. They do appear to have a trademark on the word “GALLO” used on “clothing, namely, T-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts and caps” (trademark serial number 75330379) and pretty much any housewares item you can think of (serial number 73784199). I’ll be damned.

    I don’t see a registration for postcards and other printed matter, though. I bet you could still safely sell those.

    Still, screw those guys. I don’t drink wine anyway, but I’ll make an extra point of not drinking any of their wine.

  2. Pingback: Communications From Elsewhere

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