A lawsuit filed against Julian Hard Cider claims the company has no right to its name because its drink is not made in the apple-picking town or with its most popular export.
A legal battle started brewing when Brian Kenner decided to turn his 3,000 square-foot Kenner Ranch barn into a boutique cidery called Julian Ciderworks.
On Wednesday, Kenner showed NBC 7 a letter he sent to Julian Hard Cider in July, requesting use of the name “Julian.” The company’s attorney responded with a cease-and-desist letter that claimed “trademark infringement and false designation of origin.”
Kenner, in return, filed a lawsuit against Julian Hard Cider in November, asking that a judge find the trademark invalid and to cancel its registration. He said the name is false advertising.
“My problem with Julian Hard Cider is it's not made in Julian. They're using name to indicate it’s made in Julian,” said Kenner.
According to his lawsuit, the company unfairly co-opted the town’s name because of its reputation for apples and sought-after pie. Kenner said the business uses 98 percent apple concentrate for their products.
A manager at Blue Mountain Cidery in Oregon told NBC 7 they make the cider for Julian Hard Cider using Oregon apples. According to the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, the company’s license allows them to import from another state and resell under their own name.
Therefore, Kenner believes the trademark Julian Hard Cider is “regionally descriptive, otherwise generic and commercially deceptive,” the lawsuit says.
Kenner is seeking an end to Julian Hard Cider’s rights to its name and $25,000 in relief – money which he says will be used to help grow Julian’s craft hard cider community.
“Not to go to me, but to go to a guild or consortium for Julian that will help to protect and grow the apple brand of Julian,” said Kenner.
An attorney for Julian Hard Cider declined to comment on this story, noting pending litigation.
A decision on this case is expected any day now.