"Kentucky" Trademark Dispute: Mist Moonshine and the University of Kentucky

Colin Fultz, the grandson of a bootlegger, runs a small distillery in Kentucky that produces his signature Kentucky Mist Moonshine, and he sells T-shirts, hats, and other memorabilia bearing the name in his distillery’s gift shop. The University of Kentucky took note; although it doesn’t take issue with the mist or the moonshine, it sought to put a stop to apparel bearing the word “Kentucky,” asserting that it owns a defensible trademark to the state’s name. The university registered “Kentucky” with the United States Trademark and Patent Office in 1997 and threatened legal action if Fultz did not stop his memorabilia sales. 

Can you trademark geographically descriptive terms? Read more about Trademark Law.


In addition to Thriving Attorney, Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas.  He also co-founded Project K, a charity devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time.  Click to read more about Darin Klemchuk's practice as an intellectual property lawyer.


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