Wine festival's name change offer rejected

Longtime event says name of new one still too close; lawsuit proceeds

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Do you think the "Vancouver Craft Winefest" should be forced to change its name to avoid confusion with the "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival"?

  • Yes. They are clearly trying to fool people into thinking they are the Bravo! Vancouver festival. 10%
  • No. There can be more than one Vancouver event with the name "Wine" in the title. 79%
  • Don't care. But now that you mention it, I could really use a drink. Have you been to Total Wine & More? 11%

220 total votes.

Changing the name of a June festival from "Vancouver Winefest," to "Vancouver Craft Winefest," wasn't enough to get Choice Events out of legal hot water with organizers of Bravo! Vancouver's "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival."

Tim DeJong, a Portland intellectual property attorney representing Choice Events, said he had given attorneys for Bravo! until noon Tuesday to respond to the name change that aims to avert a lawsuit filed by Michael Kissinger, president of Bravo and artistic director of its festival.

DeJong said he spoke with Portland attorney J. Peter Staples, who told him the new name was "still too close," to "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival," and that the lawsuit now before the U.S. District Court in Tacoma would proceed.

The inaugural Vancouver Craft Winefest, set for June 21-23 in Esther Short Park, will feature 20 local craft wineries and raise money for the Greater Clark County Rotary Foundation.

Kissinger argues the event sounds too much like the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival, which is held every August in Esther Short Park. His event debuted in 1998.

Kissinger also argues in a court declaration that Choice Events has approached the same businesses that sponsor his event, and has used the same marketing approaches, including print and social media.

If the June festival goes on as planned, "it will irreparably damage Bravo's festival, as well as its reputation and finances," Kissinger wrote.

A telephone hearing is set for June 10 with U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma over Bravo's request for a preliminary injunction, in which Leighton is asked to order Choice Events to immediately stop advertising and soliciting sponsors for the Vancouver Craft Winefest.

DeJong said Tuesday he'd ask Leighton to order the plaintiffs to file a brief explaining why they still believe they have a viable lawsuit even though the Vancouver Winefest changed its name.

Staples, an attorney for Bravo, didn't return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com