Contact

Michael (Mike) T. Reynvaan

PHONE: 206.359.8469
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Winery & Vineyard

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Overview

The Perkins Coie Winery & Vineyard industry group offers a complete, multidisciplinary team of attorneys who are personally committed to assisting wineries at all stages of their development and in all facets of their operations. The group actively follows the trends and often handles legal issues affecting the industry.

Our strengths include corporate (acquisitions, distribution), real estate/land use/water rights, trademark & copyrightregulatory compliance (state and federal), employment and litigation.

Corporate (Acquisitions, Distribution)

We assist our winery clients with setting up corporate entities by conducting necessary due diligence and reviewing tax issues. We also assist with regulatory compliance regarding the operation of tasting rooms, general alcohol sales and distribution regulations. In addition, we negotiate the full range of contracts and agreements for equipment, personnel and materials. Should business disputes arise, we can assist with negotiating or, if necessary, litigating a resolution.

For investors acquiring an existing winery, we evaluate the state of the business and the agreements with key personnel, suppliers and customers, and ensure proper transfer of all rights and obligations. We also negotiate purchase/sale agreements for winery acquisitions or mergers.

Real Estate/Land Use/Water Rights

We advise clients on potential sites and operations for vineyards and wineries, including real estate purchase and documentation, land use and zoning restrictions, and viability and enforceability of water rights. An appropriate property must possess each of the following key components in order to be viable: adequate water rights; appropriate zoning; ability to comply with land use requirements; appropriate orientation and terroir; and appropriate property rights to purchase or lease.

Trademark & Copyright

Key intellectual property assets for wineries and vineyards include their trademarks and design logos. Whether it is the name of the winery or the brand for the wine, we can provide comprehensive legal and strategic advice. We focus on all aspects of domestic and international trademark work specifically tailored to the unique issues facing wineries and vineyards, including counseling, clearing trademarks for use, registration, licensing and enforcement. We have strong experience in the area of domain name disputes and other Internet-related issues, which are increasing as the Internet develops into a powerful business medium for wineries and vineyards.

Another valuable intellectual property asset is copyright in the design of, and artwork for, wine labels. We protect and enforce copyrights through registration, counseling and agreements.

We have a wide range of experience representing winemakers, wineries and vineyards in trademark and copyright matters. This experience includes not only trademark and copyright clearance and registration work, but extends to negotiating complex trademark licenses and co-existence agreements. At Perkins Coie, we understand the importance of trademarks, brand identity and copyright in the competitive world of wine.

Regulatory Compliance (State and Federal)

As an alcohol production business, any winery faces a byzantine array of state and federal statutory and regulatory requirements. Issues such as licensing, zoning, bonding of the winery, label approval, trademark and copyright registration and, in some instances, antitrust compliance, trigger regulatory requirements at both state and federal levels and must be addressed before a winery begins operation. In addition, there are a multitude of issues that arise during operations, such as shipping regulations and restrictions, e-mail and Web site sales and distribution, advertising, and trademark or copyright enforcement. State liquor control laws vary widely. For example in Washington, the "tied house" statutes and regulations make it particularly difficult for wineries to operate both a winery production and restaurant/retail facility.

Employment

We provide advice on the full spectrum of employment issues, including employee discipline and background investigations and requirements under laws as diverse as FLSA, FMLA, ADA, Title VII, WARN, COBRA and their state and local counterparts. Our lawyers have substantial trial experience and regularly appear in state and federal courts to defend employers against claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, wage-hour violations and other employment-related claims. We have broad experience in dealing with complex legal and medical issues and can help employers manage claims and additional issues relating to workers' compensation.

Litigation

Our lawyers often help wineries deal effectively and aggressively with the ever-increasing threat of litigation in today's litigious business environment, specifically in the areas of dealer relations, price discrimination and various wine distribution practices. We have the experience to handle federal and state regulatory matters, consumer, unfair competition and putative class actions, as well as governmental agency investigations affecting the wine industry. We frequently take the lead role in significant class action and other complex litigation matters, making us particularly suited to handle actions affecting the entire industry, including direct shipping cases growing out of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent Granholm decision.

We are also known for our strategic business and compliance planning and litigation avoidance skills, which are at the core of our approach to guiding wineries through wholesaler, dealer, consumer, employment and management issues encountered every day.