Winery giants Ernest and Julio Gallo today won the exclusive right to use of their family name, thwarting their younger brother, who had used his name on a brand of cheese.
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Coyle ruled that Joseph Gallo's use of his full name on cheese misleads consumers who think the brand is connected with the E & J Gallo Winery.
Joseph Gallo has no direct connection with the Modesto-based Gallo Winery, the world's largest, even though he was raised by his older brothers and sells them grapes from his vineyards a few miles south in the San Joaquin Valley in Merced County.
Coyle's 61-page ruling, which his staff spent nearly half a year preparing, orders Joseph Gallo to quit using the name Joseph Gallo on cheese within 30 days and redesign advertisements or commercials that use the Gallo name.
'Became a Trademark'
During a monthlong trial that ended last Dec. 28, Joseph Gallo's attorney, Denis Rice, said a victory by the winery would be the only case, so far as he knows, in which a "person using his full name . . . would be precluded from using it on a non-competing product."
But Patrick Lynch, attorney for the winery, contended that "the name Gallo long since stopped being a family name and became a trademark of considerable significance. The name Gallo is virtually synonymous with a brand of wine."
Lynch contended that by putting his name on cheese, Joseph Gallo consciously was "riding on the recognition and riding on the power that the Gallo mark conferred."
He said a radio advertisement for the cheese read "all the best, if you please, from Joseph Gallo," which Lynch considered an attempt to capitalize on the "only the best" slogan the winery used in national advertising.
Rice said he will advise Joseph Gallo to appeal.
Another federal judge previously threw out a countersuit in which Joseph Gallo, 69, claimed that he is entitled to one-third of the winery holdings on grounds that it developed from the estate of their parents. A Gallo Winery attorney said during an opening statement at the trial that in 1933--six weeks after their father killed their mother, then committed suicide--Ernest, now 80, and Julio, now 78, began making wine with knowledge they gleaned from a library book.
Although they raised younger brother, Joseph, after their parents' deaths and still buy grapes from him, Ernest and Julio sued him in 1986 to protect their trademark. The winery brothers had contracted with a separate company, Gallo Salami Co., to market cheese under the Gallo name, which means rooster in Italian.