A Lexington attorney has agreed to represent Kentucky Mist Moonshine distillery in its trademark fight with the University of Kentucky.
As originally reported in The Mountain Eagle, an attorney representing UK contacted Kentucky Mist co-owner Colin Fultz and demanded that the distillery stop using the word Kentucky on T-shirts and other merchandise.
The Eagle’s story quickly gained statewide and national attention. Lexington attorney James M. Francis of the firm Fowler Bell contacted Fultz and has agreed to represent him in the matter.
Here is the text of a release issued by Francis on Thursday:
Kentucky Mist Moonshine, Inc. is disappointed by the tactics employed by the University of Kentucky to claim the exclusive right to the word KENTUCKY. This represents a shameful overreach by the University and an assault on the rights of business owners across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The action by the University is an attempt to exploit a trademark that should never have been registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office and is likely unenforceable or invalid. It is blatantly disingenuous to claim that there is a likelihood that consumers would be confused between the University of Kentucky and a small eastern Kentucky distillery and gift shop. While we hope to be able to resolve this amicably, Kentucky Mist Moonshine, Inc. is and remains a proud supporter of the University of Kentucky, it is prepared to vigorously defend its rights and the rights of all businesses, large and small, to use the name Kentucky to identify themselves, their products, their geographic location and their heritage.
James M. Francis
Trademark Counsel to Kentucky Mist Moonshine, Inc.