by Patricia Clark October 30, 2014
Read about how trademark law has been used to protect a moonshine signature product.
Under U.S. law, the right to use a trademark is usually conferred to the first company to make commercial use of a given word, symbol, or phrase. But what qualifies as commercial use? That question was at the heart of what passes for a modern-day moonshine war.
The story begins in 2011, when Carolina Moon Distillery, an Edgefield (S.C.)-based company whose signature product is a small-batch corn whiskey marketed as moonshine, started the process of gaining federal and state distillery licenses. The distilling company didn’t start selling hooch until the end of last year. In the meantime, North Charleston (S.C.)-based Terressentia, which makes private-label booze using a process that’s supposed to make unaged spirits taste older, applied for the “Carolina Moon” trademark.