Small B.C. winery goes up against Loblaw Canada over the name Ziggy
Decision in trademark dispute expected this summer
Brenda Hetman-Craig says it would be "financially devastating" if Loblaw Inc. forced her to rename her small vineyard's Ziggy Siegerrebe wine.
The 40 Knots Winery in Comox, B.C., first applied to trademark Ziggy — named both for the German grapes from which it's made and for the family's whippet dog — in March 2015.
The trademark was approved by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office in December 2015, and 40 Knots started rolling out its advertising campaign soon after.
We spent a considerable amount of effort, financially and otherwise, to brand this name.- Brenda Hetman-Craig, 40 Knots Winery
But late last year, Loblaw Inc. officially opposed the trademark, noting that Ziggy's is the brand name of several Loblaw products, most notably deli meats and prepackaged meals, since 1971.
"We spent a considerable amount of effort, financially and otherwise, to brand this name," Hetman-Craig told As It Happens host Carol Off.
"We would have to go and rebrand it," she said. "We wouldn't be able to use any of the awards we've received, any of the advertising. We'd have to work on another three years of educating others on this brand."
In an emailed statement, Loblaw spokesperson Catherine Thomas told As It Happens the company has "no choice but to challenge any company, large or small, who wants to use our brand name for their product, particularly where that use may lead to customer confusion."
Thomas also said that 40 Knots was told by trademark authorities in 2015 that its name "could be problematic."
Hetman-Craig said that, in its research, 40 Knots Winery discovered a number of brands that use the brand name Ziggy, but none that sell wine or spirits.
"We researched to make sure nobody was using Ziggy as a wine," she said. "And for trademarks, you trademark your product that you're manufacturing and selling."
She said her lawyer is confident 40 Knots has a solid case, and she plans to fight the supermarket giant for the rights to the name.
B.C. has allowed the sale of local wines in grocery stories since the spring of 2015, and Hetman-Craig suspects that's the reason behind Loblaw's challenge.
"It's quite a big news item now with grocery stores buying wine licences and starting to sell wine, particularly in British Columbia," she said. "I assume that they wouldn't want to see a Ziggy wine in their store that wasn't theirs."
Both 40 Knots and Loblaw told As It Happens they'd be willing to negotiate a compromise, but each said the other party was unwilling to budge.
A decision is expected on the trademark dispute this summer.