• Sheila Gibson, Esq

Whatever you do, don't call it Tequila


When I think about relaxing and enjoying a beverage, I think of Tequila! But not that stuff you drank that night you ended up in a fight or on someone’s bathroom floor.


Tequila is still largely an afterthought when it comes to spirits, with most bars offering only 2 or 3 choices, but tequila’s pace of growth is unmatched by any other. It seems there are new brands arriving on the scene almost daily.


But did you know the word “Tequila” is now a registered trademark?


Indeed, on June 20, 2017, after a near 14-year battle, the USPTO registered TEQUILA as a certification mark for “distilled spirits, namely, spirits distilled from the blue tequilana weber variety of agave plant.”


Certification marks are marks used to show compliance to a set of standards. A certification mark does not distinguish between producers. In addition, the user of the mark is not the registered owner, and the owner is not permitted to use the mark. These marks can show geographic origin, standards met with respect to quality or manufacture, or work performed by a person that meets certain standards. The party that applies for a certification mark must also be considered competent to certify the products in question.


In the case of TEQUILA, the mark was registered to Consejo Regulador del Tequila, A.C. (CRT), a Mexican nonprofit civil association that includes agave producers, producers/manufacturers, bottlers and distributors of Tequila, and representatives of the Mexican government.


According to CRT’s registration, the certification mark: certifies that (1) the goods are manufactured in Mexico from a specific variety of the blue agave plant grown in certain regions of Mexico as defined by Mexican law and standards; (2) the goods are manufactured in Mexico in compliance with Mexican law and standards including fermentation, distillation, aging, the percentage of blue agave sugars and physical- chemical specifications; and (3) the finished product is or contains within it the goods manufactured in accordance with (1) and (2) above. (U.S. Registration No. 5,225,126).

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