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Sam Platt

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Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Sam Platt » Mon May 15, 2006 6:41 pm

Here's the situation: My parent's will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. As a gift for their 1956 wedding they received a bottle of Paul Masson California Zinfandel, no vintage. They held onto the wretched bottle all these many years. No question the wine is bad. It was poorly stored and not age worthy to begin with. I don't intend to serve it to them, or anyone else. My plan was to scan the label and then to place copies of that "Paul Masson" label on bottles of another, better red Zinfandel, stripped of original labels, to be served to guests at the open house. The rub is that when I told my friendly wine distributor of my idea he said that it was probably against the law on several levels. Drats! Should I plow ahead and hope the Feds don't come after me, or should I move to "plan B"? Note that there is no "plan B" at present.

Thanks
Sam

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matter compared to what lies within us" -Emerson
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Robin Garr

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Robin Garr » Mon May 15, 2006 6:46 pm

Sam Platt wrote:when I told my friendly wine distributor of my idea he said that it was probably against the law on several levels. Drats! Should I plow ahead and hope the Feds don't come after me, or should I move to "plan B"? Note that there is no "plan B" at present.


Just do it, Sam. Your source is, to put it bluntly, silly. There's no law against doing something like this for your own private amusement and that of your family, as long as you're not selling the stuff. There is no law being broken here, and no chance of prosecution. A silly little thing called the First Amendment stands in the way. I think it's a great idea!
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Bob Ross

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Bob Ross » Mon May 15, 2006 7:10 pm

I love the idea, Sam. If the Feds come after you, I'll be the first in a long line of lawyers that would love to defend the case pro bono.

I suppose the wine would be falsely labelled. Just so you know the law:

Section 4.39 (a) and (1) of the FAA Act provides: "[Wine labels]....shall not contain: Any statement that is false or untrue in any particular, or that, irrespective of falsity, directly, or by ambiguity, omission, or inference, or by the addition of irrelevant scientific, or technical matter, tends to create a misleading impression."

But the prohibition is on selling such wine -- not offering it to guests and family members free of charge.

Great idea -- you are a very thoughtful person.

Regards, Bob
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Hoke

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Hoke » Mon May 15, 2006 7:47 pm

Since Robin and Bob have already chimed in with most excellent advice, all I can do is echo them.

The only time the Feds get involved---or want to get involved---is when they are not getting their appropriate tax cut on a sale.

Go ahead an do what you intend with the label. As long as you're not selling anything or trying to benefit financially from it, no one cares.

I suspect the guy who was quoting you the letter of the law was saying it would be illegal for HIM to do it...and it would. But if you're doing it....no one cares. Simple as that.
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Paul Winalski

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Paul Winalski » Mon May 15, 2006 10:20 pm

Sam Platt wrote:My plan was to scan the label and then to place copies of that "Paul Masson" label on bottles of another, better red Zinfandel, stripped of original labels, to be served to guests at the open house. The rub is that when I told my friendly wine distributor of my idea he said that it was probably against the law on several levels.


I don't see any problem, as long as you don't sell the stuff under the false label. The only other problem would be Paul Masson suing you for breach of trademark on the grounds that you're defaming them by putting their label on bottles of better wine. Sounds pretty unlikely.

And in any event it's fair use as comedic parody or satire.

Salut,

-Paul W.

P.S. - Be sure not to serve the wine before its time.
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Dan Donahue

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Dan Donahue » Tue May 16, 2006 12:15 pm

Sam--be careful about putting to the label on a really good bottle of Zin. You might start on local run on Paul Masson.

Seriously, great idea and I hope everyone has a wonderful time.
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Thomas

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Thomas » Tue May 16, 2006 12:59 pm

I'll bet that Zinfandel was pretty good in 1956, though.
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JC (NC)

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by JC (NC) » Tue May 16, 2006 1:29 pm

Another thought for the 50th anniversary. When my parents celebrated their fiftieth I wrote a couple weeks ahead of time to one of the U.S. Senators from their home state and requested a congratulatory card for the special anniversary. If you provide your parents' names and address you can have the Senator send a card for the occasion. As long as they don't have severe heartburn about that politician it makes a nice memento for a scrapbook. (My parents initially thought a family friend whose father had been governor of my home state arranged the greeting card but I confessed to being behind it).
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Sam Platt

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Sam Platt » Tue May 16, 2006 2:03 pm

Thanks to everyone for the comments on the Paul Masson idea, and the suggestions for my parent's 50th. I am going forward with the re-labeling plan. If the ghost of a drunken Orson Welles should appear to me perhaps I will reconsider, but it sounds like I am at least beyond the reach to the Feds. The sad thing is that most of the attendees wouldn't know Paul Masson from Petrus. At least my wife and I will get a chuckle out of the label change.

Thanks Again,
Sam

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are a small
matter compared to what lies within us" -Emerson
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James Roscoe

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by James Roscoe » Tue May 16, 2006 4:48 pm

If the ghost of a drunken Orson Welles shows up, let him drink the original zinfandel. Otherwise, congratulations to your parents. Let me know how it turns out. My parents have their 50th in a few years (and I turn 50 not too long afterwards).
Cheers!
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Bernard Roth

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Re: Paul Masson Wine - Stupid Question

by Bernard Roth » Wed May 17, 2006 1:22 am

You can even find businesses around the country that create customized wine labels - for things like weddings and anniversaries - that let the purchaser call the wine whatever they please, often with a photo of the individual.
Regards,
Bernard Roth

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