There’s trouble in Mommy Land.
The actual institution of motherhood isn’t in danger, but a battle is heating up over the use of that institution to sell wine. If you shop for wine in the grocery store, you’ve probably seen a label called Mommy’s Time Out. The wine comes from Italy, and is available in white (Pinot Grigio from the Veneto) and red (Primitivo from Apuglia). Described by the producer as “fresh and fruity with well balanced acidity,” it’s marketed with the motto “you deserve a time out for yourself.”
Cheryl Durzy, mother of two and a sales and marketing associate with a California winery called Clos LaChance, has recently begun selling a wine called MommyJuice. The name originated in a restaurant, when one of her children saw someone drinking a glass of wine and referred to it as “mommy’s juice.” Like Mommy’s Time Out, it comes in white (100% Chardonnay) and red (a Cabernet-dominated blend), and sells for the same price ($10).
Wherever there’s wine, these days, there’s a trademark infringement lawsuit. Rather than wait to be sued, Clos LaChance recently asked a San Francisco federal court to rule that their label doesn’t violate the Mommy’s Time Out trademark. “Mommy is a generic word they don’t have a trademark on,” said a lawyer for the winery.
Perhaps, but a consumer who purchases either Mommy’s Time Out or MommyJuice isn’t really buying a bottle of wine. They’re really purchasing a concept, a pat on the back in commodity form. These women may well deserve a glass of wine at the end of a hard day of parenting, but they have no idea what this stuff really is, since the labels are devoid of any of the normal quality determinants (producer, region, vineyard site, etc). Even better, there are no embarrassing foreign names to pronounce, no geeky “winespeak”—just the condescending message of a product aimed at a gender group, pretending to empathize with them while in reality only concerned with making money. Unfortunately, you can’t trademark that and be done with it.