Winefest will roll, under modified name

Judge sets rules for two tasting events to use the same park

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Don't call it "Vancouver Winefest" or "Vancouver Craft Winefest."

Really, please, don't.

Call it "Craft Winefest of Vancouver," the legally acceptable name for a three-day event this month at Esther Short Park.

A federal judge ordered the name change on Monday as he granted a preliminary injunction requested by Bravo! Vancouver's Michael Kissinger. Kissinger argued the inaugural event sounded too much like Bravo's annual "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival," which he started in 1998.

The lawsuit was filed May 17 against Cody Gray and Lucas Hoyle of Choice Events, organizers of the "Vancouver Winefest."

They first changed the name to "Vancouver Craft Winefest," to no avail.

While U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma ordered winefest organizers to stop using the name Monday during a telephone hearing, he did not put a stop the festival. The event, scheduled for June 21 to 23, will raise money for the Greater Clark County Rotary Foundation. It will feature 20 local craft wineries, food from local restaurants, and local bands.

In addition to promoting an event that sounded too much like Bravo's signature event in August, Kissinger argued in court documents, Gray and Hoyle approached the same businesses that sponsor his event and used the same marketing approaches, including print and social media.

Bravo owns a federal registration for "Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival."

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

Kissinger also expressed frustration to Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt that the city was promoting both festivals. About two weeks before filing the lawsuit, he mentioned to Leavitt that the city could be named as a defendant, according to email Leavitt sent to City Manager Eric Holmes.

Tim DeJong, a Portland intellectual property attorney who represented Choice Events, argued that Bravo shouldn't be concerned about people confusing the two events. Bravo promotes the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival as the No. 1 cultural arts event in Southwest Washington and claims it "has become a world-class, nationally recognized event, attracting widespread media coverage and an annual attendance between 12,000 to 15,000, including people from 19 states and Canada," DeJong wrote in court documents. The Bravo event boasts "world-renowned wines" and "internationally renowned" musical acts.

His client's event, DeJong wrote, has a "modest goal" of raising $10,000 and promoting local wineries.

"Whereas Bravo promotes the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival nationally and seeks consumers nationwide, the Vancouver Craft Winefest is entirely local," DeJong wrote. The musicians are also all local, he added. Plus, "defendants promote the absence of jazz at their event."

DeJong said Monday that the judge suggested the new name as an example of one he would approve.

DeJong said his clients have a new Facebook page (The Craft Winefest -- Vancouver, USA) and are making other fixes to comply with the court order.

"My clients are very reasonable and they will accept this change," DeJong said.

He said Leighton, after approving the new name, told the two sides he hoped they would be able to coexist.

The judge wants both sides to have successful events, DeJong said.

Kissinger could not be reached for comment.


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