Larry Abelman Receives Award
On May 8, 2019, México’s Tequila Regulatory Council (the TRC) and the Agave-Tequila Production Network hosted a special event in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of the TRC, and the 45th anniversary of Tequila’s declaration as an appellation of origin. Abelman Frayne & Schwab’s senior and founding partner, Lawrence E. Abelman, was a guest of honor at the event and was awarded the TRC’s highest award, the “Flying Eagle”, in recognition of his extraordinary effort leading to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s registration of “Tequila” as a geographic certification mark. The event was attended by representatives from the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Embassy of México, and the distilled spirits industry.
The award was bestowed upon Mr. Abelman in recognition of AFS’ successful representation of the TRC in a decade long battle to register TEQUILA as a geographical certification mark in the United States. Although the application to register TEQUILA was approved by the Trademark Examiner, registration was opposed by Luxco, Inc., a U.S. distributor of tequila, who argued that registration should be denied because TEQUILA is a generic reference that consumers do not appreciate has geographic significance. To refute this claim the TRC submitted substantial evidence showing that Tequila is recognized by U.S. consumers as originating only from Mexico, including consumer surveys, expert reports on U.S. Tequila advertising, and copious news articles, dictionary entries, and excerpts from websites and printed publications. Based on this evidence the Board concluded that Tequila has significance as a designation of geographic origin, and dismissed the Opposition.