The makers of Ghost, the hand-crafted British ultra-premium vodka, have once again slammed GHOST leader Tobias Forge for initiating a legal dispute over the sale of their product.
The vodka brand, which was launched in June 2015, first revealed the existence of a conflict via a Facebook post on May 9, later contending — without evidence — that Forge is suing the company now because he needs money after settling with four ex-members of the group.
Earlier today, Ghost Drinks Ltd. released the following statement:
"Following our recent posts, speculation has been rife around the authenticity and origin of our statement and, on a more serious note, we would like to make things clear. We do have a court summons from GHOST the band regarding an alleged trademark infringement and we have formally responded to all correspondence via our own legal counsel.
"GHOST the band have had huge and sustained international success across their admirable and well acclaimed career. This we sincerely applaud them for, even if we aren't personal fans of their music.
"We're a small vodka brand that launched in 2015 with a cool concept and a few awesome bottles of vodka. Over the last five years we've built ourselves to the point of distributing in 36 countries worldwide. This has been done through hard work and belief in our brand, not big industry budget or backing. Our ethos and intention is to not follow any typical marketing practices or industry gimmicks and to do things in our own organic way. We wanted an edgy, non conventional, stand out product and one of the world's cleanest and most palatable vodkas.
"We've got that! We don't follow, imitate or attempt to mislead anyone. You cannot mistake our bottle for anyone else's and GHOST the band's enormous fan base certainly wouldn't confuse our product as having any affiliation with them. Our logos are totally different and our vodka and their gin are completely unequivocal in all departments. We sincerely do not believe there is a conflict or risk of confusion to consumers.
"We were completely unaware of GHOST the band upon launch. We were approached by their management to do a collaboration with the vodka back in 2016, among other projects, but decided not to pursue these any further. Four years later in 2020 we now have a court date in Stockholm for June. If there was some genuine concern about us why wasn't it raised in 2016? Why have they waited for us to continue to build for another four years?
"It's no secret that music in these days of streaming is not as lucrative as it was in the days of physical record sales and most of the income will be from live shows, sponsorship and merchandise. This is how artists deservedly monetise their craft. This is why in our opinion it looks like an opportunist swipe from the band to get a pay out!
"The main basis for the legal argument from the band's side is that they hold a trademark for their figurative in Class 33 (alcoholic beverages excluding beer). They have a gin which launched many years after our vodka and say that we cannot trade as consumers will mistake our vodka for their gin and it has caused them to lose revenue.
"There are many products and brands using Ghost across a variety of sectors and industries. Ghost is an ancient internationally used and understood word. There are dozens of cases of co-existence that show
the word can be used in harmony and widely by a multitude of people, brands and products.
"We aren't using a logo with any similarity or attempting to trick consumers into thinking we are endorsed by GHOST the band. In fact our demographics are very different.
"Upon receiving this legal correspondence we have conducted research into the band and Tobias Forge. We have seen that Tobias is no stranger to litigation and is suing people with an alarming degree of regularity. It also seems there are many questions over his integrity and the authenticity of the origins of the concepts his brand has been built upon in the first place.
"Our issue is that the image and brand Tobias has built over the years and his behaviour in the real world seem to be very different. This is why we've highlighted him rather than letting him continue to hide out on the satellite orbiting his own ego whilst sending his team of lawyers and yes men out to do his dirty work. By contrast, our approach is vastly different. What you see is what you get, immature and unprofessional but honest and unapologetic about that. We're about good times and don't feel the need to conduct ourselves as though we're a Fintech company or Hedge Fund. We aren't willing to be bullied or compromised by his corporate lawyer's assault simply on the merit that they can afford the legal bills that we can't. We do not believe we should sit in silence and submit to every unreasonable demand that has been made of us over the past few months.
"We will be fighting these proceedings with the same energy and fire which have fuelled us to create and drive this brand from nothing over the last five years. In the past there have been far too many instances of large corporate entities bullying small businesses into oblivion. We know that money talks but if Tobias and co think that will be enough to carry them over the line here they will need to think again.
"To all the small businesses out there and anyone who has ever been pushed around by someone in a position of power - This one's for you!"
Last week, an attorney for the band GHOST confirmed reports that Ghost Drinks was being sued by the group over the use of the name, telling Loudwire in a statement: "Svensk Drama Pop (SDP) holds an exclusive trademark registration throughout the European Union for the figurative sign 'Ghost.' Those rights are licensed to Global Merchandising Services Ltd, in whose interest these proceedings are brought. This case has been on-going for months now, and numerous attempts have been made throughout that period of time to reach an amicable settlement."
GHOST the band has licensed its name and imagery to Global Merchandising Services for use on a GHOST-branded gin and beer.
The attorney added: "This case is not about 'gin vs. vodka,' it's about trademark rights that grant ownership for any and all alcoholic beverages -- gin, whiskey, wine, beer, ale, vodka, etc. For any other EU-based entity to use the word 'Ghost' as part of its alcoholic beverage brand name would be in violation of SDP's exclusive rights. SDP is entitled to defend these rights as any other business would when their trademark rights have been infringed."
In 2015, GHOST collaborated with Sweden's Nils Oscar Brewery on two beers: Grale and Lincopia.