Just in time for the holidays, New York whiskey lovers might soon lose the chance to gulp down a nice, strong glass of Lehman Brothers Ashes of Disaster whiskey–all thanks to Barclays PLC.
When Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy back on September 15, 2008–a move that might just have triggered the whole gosh-darn financial meltdown–Barclays PLC snapped up the remnants of the firm the next day for $1.75 billion. Since then, however, “Lehman Brothers” has become synonymous with the series of events that led to global recession and Barclays, not surprisingly, has strived to distance itself from the brand.
Fast-forward to last year and, according to Law360, London-based Tiger Lily Ventures, Ltd. applied to trademark “Lehman Brothers” for a new line of whiskey and beer that it said would “expose another side to New York.” According to Robert Garson, an attorney with Garson, Segal, Steinmetz, Fladgate LLP who is representing Tiger Lily Ventures, Ltd., the company wants its product to be a cheeky ode to the city’s resilience, and it plans to use local distillers and source all ingredients from New York State. Lehman Brothers whiskey is now taking orders for its three varieties: Ashes of Disaster heavy-bodied whiskey, Evergreen original blend and Snapfire untempered blend.
“As we say in the Big Apple ‘Ever Upwards,” The Lehman Brothers whiskey website reads. “It is in this great state one can see that from the ashes of disaster can grow the roses of promise and progress,”
Now, court records show Barclays is fighting back, arguing the company can’t get the trademark because “Lehman Brothers still is a going concern, engaged in numerous financial transactions and business dealings.” It’s not clear what exactly Barclays has been doing with the Lehman Brothers name. The company absorbed former Lehman employees and some aspects of its culture in 2008, but many former Lehman executives have been leaving, according to the Wall Street Journal. The battle between Tiger Lily and Barclays is ongoing, and both have appeals before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
“They’re fighting against what is clearly a tongue-in-cheek nod of the head, or a tip of the cap,” Mr. Garson told the Observer. “For Barclays to want to use ‘Lehman Brothers’ for banking services is like a Lance Armstrong Foundation for honesty in sports.”
A spokesman for Barclays declined to comment.