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March 24, 2014 – Members of The Explorers Club have traveled to the most distant reaches of the Earth and as far as the moon’s surface over its 120-year history. The club’s next expedition may be into a New York City federal courtroom, now that the group has filed a lawsuit against Diageo over its Johnnie Walker Explorers’ Club travel retail series of Scotch whiskies. The Explorers Club, which is based in New York City and has chapters around the world, claims Johnnie Walker owner Diageo is infringing on its trademark for the Explorers Club name.
According to the New York Post, the club sent Diageo a “cease-and-desist” letter last spring, several months after the line was launched in November of 2012 with the “Spice Road” expression. The “Gold Route” blend was released in March of 2013, and the “Royal Route” blend completed the Trade Routes series in October. The lawsuit claims Diageo’s use of the Explorers Club name on the three whiskies misleads consumers into believing that the group has endorsed the whiskies. The Explorers Club filed the lawsuit last week after negotiations with Diageo broke down, and the club is seeking either a licensing fee for the use of its name or the removal of the whiskies from the market. No court date has been set.
Diageo spokesman Jim Sias responded to our request for the company’s side of the story in this email. “We just learned of the actions that were filed and do not have a comment at this time.”
This story will be updated as more details become available.