That is, till now.
The worlds of Victor George Spirits (VGS), which manufactures Fort Mosé 1738 bourbon whiskey out of Fort Lauderdale, and French-founded Rémy Martin, which manufactures Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal cognac, have collided resulting from their utilization of the 12 months “1738.”
According to Victor Harvey, founder and CEO of VGS, his firm’s attorneys first acquired discover from E. Remy Martin & Co. in November 2023 that the corporate was objecting to using the 12 months 1738 on its Fort Mosé bourbon bottles.
The difficulty brings a few query: Can you actually trademark a 12 months?
“This initially got here as an utter shock,” Harvey tells New Times. “I’m not an legal professional, however I’ve by no means identified you can trademark a whole 12 months as a part of a trademark. We one hundred pc selected the 12 months 1738 due to its significance to Black individuals in America…it was the primary 12 months on this nation the place Black individuals may dwell free in some regard. That’s our sole purpose for utilizing it.”
His reasoning dates again even additional. Back in 1726, greater than three dozen enslaved individuals escaped Charleston, South Carolina, and ventured south to Spanish-occupied Florida.
After enduring a treacherous journey, they arrived in Saint Augustine. More and extra slaves started escaping after that, finally establishing the very first Underground Railroad. The escaped individuals joined the Spanish and natives in Florida to struggle in opposition to their English enslavers. After successful the warfare, the governor of Florida rewarded the previously enslaved individuals with their very own city, Fort Mosé, in 1738.
Fort Mosé turned the primary city in America that allowed Black individuals to dwell free.
“When I began researching a reputation for our bourbon, I wished one thing associated to Florida and one thing associated to Black individuals,” says Harvey. “Sadly, the story of Fort Mosé had by no means actually been advised. It was not solely a possibility for an excellent identify, however to get the story on the market and do our a part of telling some historical past.”
As a part of the Fort Lauderdale firm’s dedication to Fort Mosé’s historical past, it pledged to donate a greenback from each bourbon bottle offered in its first 12 months to the Fort Mosé Historical Society. In June 2023, VGS gave $10,000 to the Saint Augustine-based nonprofit, which is able to go towards constructing a reproduction of the fort in addition to funding academic programming.
According to Harvey, because the bourbon launched in June 2022, the bourbon whiskey has been VGS’ prime vendor and is obtainable in ten states.
Harvey says the corporate plans to launch its first rye whiskey in February to kick off Black History Month and its first tequila in June. VGS’ portfolio additionally contains Victor George vodka and a caramel-flavored vodka.
The firm plans to open a brand new distillery throughout the subsequent 18 months alongside Sistrunk Boulevard in northwest Fort Lauderdale’s historic Black neighborhood, Sistrunk.
As for Rémy Martin, a consultant of the model notes that the corporate “is not going to touch upon authorized issues.”
According to its web site, Rémy Martin’s 1738 Accord Royal cognac bears the 12 months as a result of it “commemorates the reward of excellence bestowed on Rémy Martin by King Louis XV in 1738.” Notably, Rémy Martin has a number of distinguished Black model ambassadors, together with Usher, and “1738” is the title of a 2023-released track by rapper Fetty Wap.
Amid the continuing authorized battle, Harvey does not plan to budge. As of January 23, the businesses have but to return to an settlement.
“I’m the kind of businessman who stands on precept, and, in our opinion, we have achieved every little thing completely proper right here,” Harvey concludes. “We have a really important purpose to make use of this 12 months as a part of our model, and this story will all the time be larger than us.”