Oklahoma winemakers Girls Gone Wine is suing Mantra Films in response to a cease-and-desist letter from the “Girls Gone Wild” producers.
“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has already said, ‘There’s no issue here. They can co-exist,’” said Martin Ozinga, attorney for Girls Gone Wine.
At issue is whether the three women behind the wine brand can keep their already trademarked name. Girls Gone Wine has been trademarked since February 2007.
“We will crush them,” “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis told a reporter from jail in Reno, Nev. “This is blatant trademark infringement. It just backs up everything that people have tried to do to me over the last few years to take advantage of me and we’re tired of it.”
The women went to federal court after getting a letter in July from a Mantra Films attorney demanding they “immediately cease and desist any and all use” of the winery’s name. The letter explained Mantra Films was prepared to take legal action if the women kept using the name.
The women struck first, reportedly so the issue could be resolved in court in Oklahoma rather than California.
“It always makes your gut clinch when you get that kind of thing,” owner Michelle Finch said. “We’re hopeful that it will all work out. If not, we’ll just deal with that, too, if it ever comes. We’re here. We’re here to stay.”
Finch, 44, said she doesn’t think anyone would confuse her business with the DVD-selling business.
“We certainly hope we never are. We don’t get people walking in the door looking for anything but wine,” she said.
The company behind “Girls Gone Wild” has had to deal with this before, all over the world, said its general counsel, Michael Burke.
“It happens all the time,” Burke said. “Mantra Films has spent several hundred million dollars over the last 10 years advertising its name endlessly on TV to build up the image that ‘Girls Gone Wild’ is a fun, party environment and these women are taking a free ride on all that advertisement and name recognition.”