Texas Lottery claims it owns ‘Texas Two Step’ name, sues vodka brand

Posted: July 26, 2022, 4:44 a.m.

Last update: July 26, 2022, 05:56 a.m.

The Texas Lottery Commission is suing a vodka distillery. This is because he claims that the copyright of the aforementioned country dance is owned by the state.

Texas Lottery
The Texas Lottery has been running its popular Texas Two Step draw since 2001. But can you really confuse a lottery product with a drink? And what do these things have to do with line dancing? (Image: Texas Lottery Commission)

Ali Ansari owns a “craft” vodka distillery outside of Houston. He decided to name his brand of vodka “Texas Two Step” after the much-loved dance and filed a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application has been accepted.

The only problem was that the Texas Lottery had been offering a $1 raffle ticket called “Texas Two Step” since 2001. And she thinks Ansari is taking two steps on her toes.

The lottery owns the trademark patent for the gambling products. But it argues the vodka brand will confuse consumers and damage its reputation by association.

Texas Hold’em Polka

In April, the Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) determined that the two marks could co-exist without causing undue confusion. Now the lottery commission is asking a US District Court in Austin to overturn that decision.

“Plaintiff has enormous goodwill in its ‘Texas Two Step’ brand,” the commission alleges in its lawsuit. “As a state agency, the applicant must exercise care in advertising its products or services, in order to protect the goodwill of the mark, or to ensure that the public’s confidence in the applicant and in its products and services is not undermined.”

If Texas Two Step Vodka is permitted to register, the lottery argues that it is likely to “confuse, or cause error, or mislead as to affiliation, connection, or association defendant’s or defendant’s goods with plaintiff or plaintiff’s goods”. products or services, and/or as to the origin, sponsorship or endorsement of defendant’s business activities. »

The Lottery says associating its product with alcoholic beverages could “negatively impact” and “dilute” its brand. It could cause “irreparable damage”, including loss of revenue and sales and “tarnish Plaintiff’s brand and the goodwill associated with it in the minds of consumers”.

Who tarnishes whom?

But Ansari said The Houston Chronicle this week that the idea that his distillery could taint the name of a gambling operation was ridiculous.

“Our argument was that you’re in the gambling business, which is mostly illegal in Texas,” he said. “And we are in the legal business of distilled spirits. So who’s tarnishing who?

His attorney, Steve Abbot, put it just as succinctly: “I have Delta faucets in my house. But I’m not confused when buying a Delta plane ticket,” he said.

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