AS Bryden agrees not to use ‘Spirit of Carnival’ tagline at NCC events

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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Local distributor AS Bryden and Sons (Trinidad) Ltd has agreed to not use the tagline “The Spirit of Carnival” in the marketing of its Hennessy Cognac at any National Carnival Commission (NCC) sponsored events and venues for Carnival 2024.

An agreement was reached between the local distributor and the National Carnival Commission (NCC).

The NCC had applied to the High Court for protection against unfair competition.

Bryden eventually agreed to refrain from using the tagline at any NCC-sponsored events and venues for the 2024 Carnival season unless it gets written permission from the commission.

The agreement was signed off by Justice Karen Reid and the NCC withdrew the application for an interim injunction which sought to prevent Brydens from using the tagline in the distribution or sale of Hennessy Cognac or any other alcoholic beverage or distilled spirit.

The court’s order which sets out the terms of the undertaking included a penal clause, warning against disobeying the order.

The application said the NCC and Angostura have, for several years dating back to 2005, entered into sponsorship agreements which allowed the local rum manufacturer to use the tagline “The Spirit of Carnival” to market its distilled spirits during the Carnival season.

The application said the last three sponsorship agreements included a provision for Angostura’s use of the tagline “The Spirit of Carnival” in all promotional activities held by NCC.

“Angostura’s runs have developed a reputation as being the Spirit of Carnival.”

Although an unregistered trademark, the tagline has become synonymous with Angostura. In January, Bryden was asked to stop advertising its Hennessy using the tagline as it was already in use by Angostura which was aggrieved and was contemplating severing its commercial relationship with NCC.

“The intended claimant’s corporate sponsorships amount to approximately $5 million. There is a real risk that if the intended defendant continues to market and use the tagline ‘The Spirit of Carnival,” the intended claimant stands to lose its corporate sponsors.”

The application said despite being aware that Angostura used the tagline and unregistered trademark, for years, “the intended defendant has persisted in its use of the said tagline and/or unregistered trade mark in its marketing and distribution of its own distilled spirit, Hennessy Cognac,” it contended.

It also referred to the widespread marketing campaign for a limited-edition Carnival bottle of Hennessy, earlier in January.

“The defendant uses the tagline ‘The Spirit of Carnival’ to market and distribute its own distilled spirit Hennessy cognac in the full knowledge that the said tagline and/or unregistered trademark has, pursuant to a contractual arrangement between the claimants, been used by the second claimant to market, distribute and promote its own distilled spirits during the Carnival season.

“In doing so, the defendant has and is engaging in actions or practices that are contrary to honest practices, thereby committing an act of unfair competition, contrary to section 4 of the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act, as amended.”

The application also said the use of the tagline was likely to confuse consumers. It further cited the relevant portions of the act that related to its complaint.

NCC and Angostura were represented by Anisa Kallap, Anthony Bullock and John Jeremie, SC, while Brydens was represented by attorneys Frederick Gilkes and Kristin L. Chiselko.