E&J Gallo Winery sued to block a customer, Hilton Hotels Corp., from opening a chain of Italian restaurants named Gallo Rosso.
Gallo, which means rooster in Italian, said it began using the name in 1933 when Ernest and Julio Gallo founded the company. The family has spent more than $600 million promoting the name, selling billions of bottles of wine.
Hilton's plan for a Gallo Rosso chain, with a red rooster image, would lead consumers to "invariably associate" the new restaurants with Gallo wines, the suit said. That "will cause Gallo to lose control of the manner in which its famous trademark is promoted," giving consumers the impression "there are now two Gallo brands, one for wine and another for Italian restaurants."
Closely held Gallo, based in Modesto, has successfully sued many others who tried to use the name for such products as salsa, beer, cheese, rice, coffee bags and shoes. Kathy Shepard, a spokeswoman for Beverly Hills-based Hilton, said the company doesn't comment on litigation. On Tuesday, Hilton shares rose 11 cents to $16.01 on the New York Stock Exchange.
The suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Fresno, doesn't say whether Gallo Rosso restaurants would be in any of Hilton's hotel chains or be separate.