Alcohol company denies Rex krewe’s infringement lawsuit

The maker of a line of Carnival-themed alcohols that the Rex Organization is suing for copyright infringement said earlier this week the company did not intend to copy the krewe’s trademarks when it filed its own trademark registrations.

The Rex Organization’s lawsuit claims that King Rex Spirits Inc. makes products that use many of the old-line krewe’s symbols and trademarks, such as “King of Carnival” and “Monarch of Merriment,” in its packaging and marketing in an effort to sell products and to confuse the public.

The alcohol company argues that it serves a different mission than the Rex Organization and that there is not any confusion because of that.

“We consider our brand separate and independent from The School of Design,” which operates as the Rex Organization, said Desi Ortiz, vice president and chief operating officer of King Rex Spirits. “They provide a charitable non-profit service while Rex Spirits provides a commodity.”

Ortiz said that King Rex Spirits filed its trademarks registrations with the United States Patent Office without intention and infringement of the Rex Organization’s trademarks.

“We did our due diligence,” he said.

Krewe officials, however, have said that King Rex Spirits previously tried to enter into a marketing agreement with them in an effort to use the connection to help with sales.

The organization declined that offer and issued a cease and desist letter that asked the company to discontinue using its trademarks and any marketing that appeared to connect the two groups, according to court documents.

The krewe filed suit after King Rex Spirits failed to stop using the Rex Organization’s marks.

The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief against Sal N. Oritz and King Rex Spirits for what the Rex Organization says is an unauthorized and misleading affiliation with its products.

Citing the open lawsuit, Desi Ortiz earlier this week declined to say what, if anything, his company planned to do to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, the Rex Organization has continued its legal action. According to court documents, the organization on Thursday filed a request for a preliminary injunction in an effort to stop King Rex Spirits from using its existing marketing materials.

King Logan, a Rex Organization official, said last week that his organization acknowledges that several registered trademarks exist that legally include the name Rex.

But, the lawsuit notes, “none of these products has used the name Rex in conjunction with symbols of New Orleans Mardi Gras without any other marks which would distinguish their marks from Rex, the King of Carnival.”

Logan said the alcohol company’s use of his organization’s symbols is “a clear-cut example” of a commercial entity unlawfully and unethically using the Rex Organization’s history and name to “capitalize on its sales and profit goals.”