How a Wooden Whiskey Glass Led to a Lawsuit for a Minnesota Drinkware Company
Sipdark, a Chaska, Minnesota-based seller of customizable whiskey accessories has been issued a lawsuit by a Scottish glassmaker for trademark infringement. The federal suit, which asks the judge to order Sipdark to cease from selling the offending product, also seeks unspecified damages.
The product in question is a wooden whiskey glass. The company’s website claims that the glass, handcrafted from American oak and given a natural beeswax finish, has a shape and design unique to Sipdark. The only problem is that the shape of the wooden glass looks an awful lot like the iconic Glencairn glass.
With its solid, flattened bottom, rounded body and narrowed lip, the Glencairn glass is nearly synonymous with single-malt Scotch whiskey. For anyone who has ever had the distinct pleasure of visiting one of Scotland’s numerous distilleries, they will immediately recognize the Glencairn design as the glass of choice for any whiskey sampling.
While many companies, Sipdark included, sell licensed Glencairn glasses, it seems that the Scottish glassmaker has decided that Sipdark’s wooden whiskey glass too-nearly resembles Glencairn's iconic glass. Likely as it is that Glencairn would have found fault with Sipdark’s offering due to the design alone, the company’s claim that the oaken glass had been made using a unique shape certainly made it impossible for Glencairn to ignore it.
The lawsuit cites Sipdark’s own promotional material, including a video, in alleging trademark infringement. The video in question can be found on a Kickstarter page for the wooden glass, which to date is still up and running. Though the campaign ended in December, the American oak whiskey glass managed to gain $56,724 in donations from 1,343 backers in total.
Time will tell what the result of the lawsuit will mean for Sipdark and the many donors who helped fund its product. While the page for the Kickstarter campaign shows that donors were supposed to have received oak whiskey glasses for their participation in January, Sipdark’s website claims that they are still in production and not yet available for purchase.
A quick look at the Kickstarter campaign’s comment thread shows that some donors have begun to receive the glasses, and there are multiple complaints about a leaking issue and questions about when the company will be sending out the products as promised. With a federal lawsuit on its hands, however, these problems may be the least of Sipdark’s worries.