Francis Ford Coppola's Vineyard Sues Winemaker for Mimicking Its Label

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Coppola commutes between his wineries in Geyserville (pictured) and St. Helena: "I love to do this 50-minute drive on the stretch out of St. Helena on Highway 29, past Calistoga and through Alexander Valley."

The Coppolas aren't the Corleones, but a new lawsuit shows you shouldn't cross the man behind The Godfather — when it comes to his vineyard, at least.

Francis Ford Coppola's Napa winery boasts more than a dozen brands, including its iconic Director's Cut series, which an Oregon winemaker is accused of mimicking to mislead consumers.

GMYL, which controls the Coppola wine trademarks, says Copa Di Vino's "Winemaker's Cut" is a clear rip-off of Coppola's "Director's Cut."

It's not all in a name, though. GMYL also claims Copa is copying the distinctive look of Coppola's Diamond Collection Black Label Claret wine, a flagship of the line.

The trade dress includes a vertical black label, the word "Coppola" in bold capital letters, gold design elements including stylized grapes and vines and a "thin gold net surrounding the entire bottle which presents an overall diamond pattern encompassing the wine bottle."

GMYL is suing Copa, and its owner (and Shark Tank alumnus) James Martin, for trademark and trade dress infringement and unfair competition, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in California federal court. 

Copa Di Vino is known as a producer of wine by the glass, according to its website, but GMYL's lawsuit claims it has been shopping full bottles of its wine to major grocery chains.

"Given Defendants’ use of a trade dress virtually identical to GMYL’s Black Label Trade Dress in connection with identical wine products in identical channels of trade, consumer confusion is not only likely but inevitable," states the complaint. 
The suit claims Martin was well aware of the Coppola winery and its products, as he had approached the vineyard in 2011 with a proposed business venture. 

Representatives for Copa Di Vino on Friday sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement in response to the lawsuit: "James Martin and his family have tremendous regard for the GMYL, L.P. Coppola Brand and their wines. We take GMYL’s allegations very seriously and are working with our legal counsel to resolve this legal action as fairly, justly, and expeditiously as possible so that both companies can continue to enjoy making wine."

Several side-by-side comparisons of labels and bottles were embedded in the lawsuit, one of which is below. (Read the full complaint here.)

September 2, 2:15 p.m. Updated with a statement from Copa Di Vino.