Tiny Novato winery wins trademark case against Trek Bicycle

NOVATO -- A federal judge in Wisconsin today tossed out a trademark-infringement case against tiny Novato-based Trek Winery LLC brought by Trek Bicycle Corp., one of the largest bike manufacturers in North America.

Waterloo, Wis.-based Trek Bicycle sued the winery and owner Andrew Podshadley in October, alleging the winery was violating federal and state trademark law by shipping three orders of wine to Wisconsin, according to the 15-page opinion by U.S. district judge Barbara Crabb.

She granted the winery's motion to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. In other words, the winery didn't have sufficient contact with the state to make it fair to sue it in a Wisconsin court per the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Wisconsin's "long-arm statute," according to the judge.

"Plaintiff cannot argue seriously that three isolated sales show that defendants have made such purposeful availment of the benefits of Wisconsin's laws that they could reasonably anticipate being hauled into court in this state," Judge Crabb wrote.

Two orders went to Mr. Podshadley's aunt and her son, and one went to the spouse of a Trek Bicycle employee "to confirm that defendants were able and willing to sell wine into the state," according to the opinion. The winery shipped 226 cases last year, almost all of which were to California addresses.

The Wisconsin Revenue Department ordered Trek Winery to stop such shipments because it didn't have alcoholic beverage or direct-shipment licenses, and Mr. Podshadley decided it wasn't worth the expense, according to the judge.

Trek Bicycle alleged potential confusion in California wine country, where the manufacturer organizes bicycling tours and sells its energy drinks, but the judge wrote that the three sales mentioned before "could not possibly have resulted in consumer confusion over the source of the wine."

Attorneys for Trek Bicycle could not be reached for comment.

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