Captain Morgan won a trademark infringement lawsuit this week against a brand of alcohol called Admrial Nelson. The Rum giant accused the name of the rival brand of being too similar to their brand, causing consumer confusion and dilution of their brand.
A Federal Court in Canada ruled that consumers could easily confuse the six-year-old upstart for the iconic spiced rum brand, and Admiral Nelson is now banned from selling bottles featuring the copycat corsair on the country’s shelves.
“There were really unmistakeable similarities in the appearance,” said Mark Evans, a lawyer for Captain Morgan’s parent company Diageo.
Captain Morgan’s lawyers argued that the mimicry is especially egregious because the “blatantly confusing historical character” looks nothing like the real Admiral Nelson — who, unlike the red-haired, eye-patch-wearing freebooter on the bottle, was not a pirate at all.
Some of the most distinguishing copied features of Captain Morgan have been copied and Admiral Nelson is even depicted as a swashbuckling sailor who also sports naval attire, a cape, a sword, and fancy facial hair, whereas the real Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, an 18th century British Naval officer, had grey hair, two eyes, and lost his right arm in battle. Captain Morgan — an “iconic and beloved character,” according to the lawyers — is based on an actual 17th century pirate.
The judge also ordered Admiral Nelson’s Kentucky based parent company Heaven Hill Distilleries to pay Diageo an unspecified bounty in damages and send all of its knock-off hooch to Davy Jones’ locker.