Victory in Trade Dress Action for Dan Aykroyd’s Crystal Head Vodka Bottle

Bird Marella principal Hernán Vera recently teamed up with David Berg and the firm of Berg & Androphy to prevail in a federal trade dress action on behalf of their client, Globefill Incorporated.  The jury’s unanimous verdict in favor of Globefill was entered on March 29, 2017.

Globefill is the maker of Crystal Head Vodka, the original and award-winning product sold in a clear, skull-shaped bottle designed by internationally acclaimed artist John Alexander.  The Canadian company was founded by legendary actor Dan Aykroyd, John Alexander, and Managing Partner Jonathan Hemi.

Globefill filed suit in 2010 in the Central District of California against Elements Spirits, the manufacturer of a copycat, skull-shaped product named Kah Tequila.

Perhaps the most startling development was Globefill’s presentation –on the last day of trial – of a rebuttal witness who testified that Defendant Kim Brandi, the founder and CEO of Elements Spirits, commissioned him to make a casting of the Crystal Head Vodka bottle in 2009.  Walter “Buddy” Szymoniak, a tattoo artist in Pasadena, told a stunned courtroom that, at Brandi’s direction, he poured a silicone mold of the Crystal Head Vodka bottle and used that as the basis for what eventually became Defendants’ Kah Tequila bottle.

“I’ve never seen a trial twist like this before in nearly 25 years of federal practice,” said Vera after the decision.  “The jury’s verdict validates what Dan and others have been saying all along – that the makers of Kah Tequila set out to intentionally copy our product.  We are all thrilled that justice has finally been done here.”

The Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall presided over the trial.  Cravath, Swaine & Moore represented Defendant Elements Spirits.