The suit filed in the Federal Court of Canada pits relative minnow Heaven Hill, which claims to be the largest independent, family owned distiller in the US, against Diageo – the world’s largest spirits company.
The case will explore the merits of the two brands backed by two very different historical characters – bloody brigand Captain Morgan and English naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Diageo insists that Admiral Nelson's infringes and dilutes Captain Morgan’s trade dress, the brand’s ‘iconic’ labeling and the trademark of the controversial character himself.
There does seem a certain similitude between the two characters - see the labels side-by-side above - as well as a degree of poetic license in Heaven Hill's portrayal of a two-armed Admiral Nelson, although in its defense this could be a younger Nelson.
'We will fight these infringements!' - Diageo