March 30, 2017

Dan Aykroyd skull vodka clobbers `cheap knock-off’ tequila: Who ya gonna call?

Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka emerged victorious Wednesday in a Los Angeles federal trademark dispute with a tequila company over skull-shaped bottles that each brand uses to distribute their spirits.

In its lawsuit, Crystal Head maker Globefill Inc. — which is majority owned by the “Ghostbusters” star — alleged that Kah Tequila’s packaging was a cheap knockoff” of its own skull design.

After less than four hours of deliberations, an eight-member civil jury unanimously found “willful” infringement on the part of the tequila company.

“It’s a great victory for Globefill and Mr. Aykroyd,” said attorney Michael M. Fay, whose firm represents Crystal Head. “The company has a very distinctive trade dress — the skull-shaped bottle — and the jury said that trade dress should be protected.”

A representative of Elements Spirits Inc., which owns Kah Tequila, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Aykroyd found comedy fame in the 1970s on Saturday Night Live, most memorably with Steve Martin as “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” and as the head of the Conehead family. While his film roles have usually been in comedies, he’s been featured in a number of successful dramas.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 and ended in a defense verdict three years later. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the verdict and ordered a retrial, which began two weeks ago in downtown Los Angeles before U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall.

Crystal Head Vodka was launched by Aykroyd and artist John Alexander in 2007. Kah Tequila’s liquor, marketed in Day of the Dead-themed skull bottles, first appeared on store shelves in 2010.

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