As quickly as it began, the whiskey war is over

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 21, 2012 - 9:36 PM

Former pub owner Kieran Folliard said he's keeping the trademark for the "Big Ginger."

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“The Big Ginger”: Irish whiskey and ginger ale, mixed in a highball glass.

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The Irish whiskey war is over.

Attorneys for former restaurateur Kieran Folliard and the maker of Jameson Irish whiskey said a one-week-old, high-profile dispute between the two parties over the name of a whiskey-and-ginger-ale drink has been resolved through "an amicable settlement."

Folliard confirmed the settlement Tuesday and said his company, 2 Gingers Whiskey, continues to own the "Big Ginger" trademark for the cocktail his former pubs have been pouring since 2005.

"We will continue to sell the Big Ginger," Folliard said. No other terms of the settlement could be revealed, he said.

Timing of the settlement was critical to both parties given the fast-approaching St. Patrick's Day celebration, the most popular time of the year for the consumption of Irish whiskey.

Kenneth Port, a trademark and intellectual property professor at the William Mitchell School of Law in St. Paul, said he was not surprised by the announcement.

"Only 1 1/2 percent of these cases reach trial," Port said in an interview Tuesday. "This case smacks of being a 'wake up' lawsuit that is filed after they get blown off in settlement attempts. You file the suit to wake up the defendant."

Port said Jameson likely did not want the lawsuit to proceed because of its long and profitable relationship with four Twin Cities pubs formerly owned by Folliard, including the Local, which has poured more Jameson than any pub in the world for the past five years.

Port suggested the settlement was in part the result of a wish by Jameson to continue its relationship with the Folliard establishments. The settlement announcement was contained in a letter to U.S. District Chief Judge Michael Davis asking that a Feb. 27 hearing on a temporary restraining order be canceled. The letter, signed by Folliard's attorney Timothy Kenny, said that lawyers for the defendant [Jameson] "do not oppose" the motion to cancel the hearing and withdraw the motion.

"We anticipate dismissing the case in the next week," the letter said.

The dispute between Folliard and Jameson went public last week when Folliard accused Jameson of copying and marketing its own version of the Big Ginger in at least two unnamed Twin Cities bars.

Folliard and Jameson had been on the outs since last year when Folliard stopped promoting Jameson as the whiskey of choice for the popular highball and replaced it with his own Irish whiskey, 2 Gingers.

In addition to the Local, Folliard also once ran Kieran's, the Liffey and Cooper Pub. He sold the pubs in order to comply with federal law after he launched the spirits venture.

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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