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UK Claims Victory In Trademark Dispute

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A small Appalachian distillery embroiled in a trademark dispute with the University of Kentucky has lost its fight in a federal court.

U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit Kentucky Mist Moonshine filed against the university. Reeves ruled UK has sovereign immunity shielding it from the suit.

Whitesburg-based Kentucky Mist sued UK over use of the word "Kentucky" on clothing.

Kentucky Mist said it filed suit last year after UK threatened legal action for the distillery's pursuit of a federal trademark registration.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton says the judge's ruling in Lexington recognizes the school's interest in protecting its trademark interests.

"Trademark issues, issues about trademark protections and having to assert our protections, happen fairly frequently," Blanton told WUKY. "Nine times out ten, under the guidelines and under the law, we have to assert our protections and we notify a company when there's an issue and then we work together to figure it out and resolve it in a way that meets everyone's interests."

Kentucky Mist attorney Jim Francis says he's disappointed but says the distillery has several options, including an appeal, in pursuing its trademark rights.

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