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An eight-year battle

Arbor Hill Winery’s trademark tussle with industry giant Constellation Brands Inc. also has sparked a court fight between two local legal titans: Nixon Peabody LLP and Harter, Secrest & Emery LLP.
The parties: John and Katherine Brahm, owners of Arbor Hill in Naples; Constellation Brands; Nixon Peabody; and Harter Secrest
The issues: Constellation and Arbor Hill dispute whether Constellation’s Arbor Mist brand wine cooler interferes with Arbor Hill’s wine label trademark. The Brahms additionally have accused Nixon Peabody, their former law firm but now Constellation’s law firm, of breach of fiduciary duty and malpractice. Nixon Peabody, which has withdrawn as Constellation’s attorneys in this case, is the plaintiff in a related complaint seeking Harter Secrest’s disqualification on grounds that it formerly represented Constellation.
Who is suing whom: Initially, Constellation sued Arbor Hill, seeking a declaration that its Arbor Mist brand does not infringe on the winery’s trademark. Currently all parties, including the law firms, are both plaintiffs and defendants in the case in which primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary complaints are filed.
The ruling: After six years of pretrial arguments, U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa in February ruled that Arbor Hill has grounds to have its trademark complaint aired in a trial.

04/11/08 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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