Rex Organization settles copyright infringement lawsuit with alcohol maker

NEW ORLEANS — A lawsuit between the Rex Organization and a Texas alcohol company that sold alcohol products under the name King Rex has been settled.

The Carnival krewe alleged that Rex Spirits made products that use many of the Rex Organization’s symbols and trademarks, such as “King of Carnival” and “Monarch of Merriment” in its packaging and marketing in an effort to sell products and to confuse the public.

Under the settlement, Rex Spirits agreed to stop producing products under the King Rex name and will immediately remove its products from stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

In a news release, the Rex Organization said it would allow Rex Spirits the “courtesy” of selling off its remaining products for a year in states beyond Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama while allowing an 18-month window in foreign countries.

“The issue here is very clear: When the words and symbols of ‘Rex’ and ‘New Orleans Mardi Gras’ are used in the same context, that can only mean one entity, that of the Rex Organization and its 142-year history,” Rex spokesman King Logan said in a prepared statement.

The settlement was agreed upon last Friday after the case had gone to trial, said Andrew Rinker, lead counsel for the Rex Organization.

Rinker said Rex Spirits agreed to also transfer to the Rex Organization several trademarks the alcohol company had registered using the Rex name.

“It was simply to protect its trademarks, trade names and history,” Rinker said of the organization’s decision to sue.

Sal Ortiz, president and CEO of Rex Spirits, on Tuesday said the settlement was a “fair decision” and his company is going to work to come up with a new product name and marketing campaign for its alcoholic beverages.

“We have no ill will toward the Rex Organization,” he said. “I don’t blame the krewe of Rex.”

Rex Spirits made a $1,000 donation to the Rex Organization’s Pro Bono Publico Foundation, which supports public education in the city. Desi Ortiz, Rex Spirits’ vice president, said it was a mutual goodwill move.

Sal Ortiz said that after his company rolls out its new product line, they plan to return to the area.

“We’ll be back,” he said. “We just want to do things right.”


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