Michael B

TTB label rejection recourse?

17 posts in this topic

So we recently received a label rejection and they cited a need for us to remove a particular word/ingredient (I'd rather not say which word/ingredient at this point) from the label because it inferred a health claim. However, there is another brand (same spirit- vodka) currently out there which uses this same exact word/ingredient on its front label. Unless TTB has recently rejected their prior approval of this brand's use of the word/ingredient, it appears they're inconsistent.

I don't know the innards of the ttb labeling department, but do I have any recourse here (besides hiring an expensive attorney)?

Thanks for any wisdom, experience, advice you can impart on this one!

Michael

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Call the specialist assigned to your COLA. Be respectful and persistent. Share the example.

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I can tell you that the TTB (at least the reps I dealt with) do not pay much credence to past precedents they may have set. When I brought up to them the number of labels in the market that they have approved, which are doing exactly what I have been trying to do, they scoffed it off by saying that any of those that made it though in the past were mistakes. How bout one more mistake, guy?

I responded to their rejection with a rapid fire of 5+ variations (most of which were again rejected the same day they were submitted). I'm the farthest thing on an expert on dealings of these sorts, but I will offer two bits of advice... 1. Know who you're dealing with - some TTB reps roll with a higher iq and ability to reach logical conclusions than others. If you get the wrong specialist on your case, consider making a change and hope someone else picks it up. I know I've had multiple reps on my case - and have no doubt infuriated a few of them. 2. Be willing to make a departure from your original intentions. It hurts to do so but in interest of moving forward, it might be necessary. That's not to say you can't be creative in your iterations and ultimately get close to what your original intent was without getting kicked by the ttb rejection boot.

I feel your pain. Best of luck.

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To Deerhammer: How were you able to change COLA reps?

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Our rep was out (asuming vacation) and during the time that our request for an expedited review was approved. I suppose having more than one rep on ones case isn't the norm.

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I deal with inconsistency like a normal person

600full-falling-down-screenshot.jpg

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Haha. Of course.

"I am not a vigilante. I am just trying to get home to my little girl's birthday party and if everyone will just stay out of my way, nobody will get hurt."

Michael

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We are all just trying to get home to our little girls birthday party, and TTB has to come and make nonsense rules that fuck it all up.

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Could it be possible that the company that is using this has had it a long time and has it "grandfathered", I have seen this numerous times with other beverages.

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I guess it could be a grandfathering reason, though the other biz has only had their product on the market for about two years.

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TTB has previously informed me there is no grandfathering in alcohol. The exact words, "alcohol is different".

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Having experienced this myself numerous times, I can only say that you're at their mercy. We tried using the word Apertif and were shut down- implies health benefit. Our absinthe labels took a year to get approved because of SO MANY stupid little issues that I'm not sure I remember them all. "can't have the word absinthe on a line all by itself", "can't use a year on the label without another modifying word on the same line or it infers a vintage" Suffice it to say we are the only absinthe on the market that had to state "Thujone Free" on the label despite all absinthe on the market being thujone free.

I'm usually a fighter, but they have demonstrated again and again that there is no consistent logic applied to the label review. I have fought and fought and there is no logical path with them on these issues, there seems to be no recourse at all. My advice is to move past it and get your product out anyway you can, the omission or addition of a word will likely not have an effect on sales.

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'Digestif', Guy. 'Aperitif' is a class/type of wine - Different volume of the Beverage Manual :-) I banged my head against that wall when I sought an 'apple vermouth' label. No go. You can have an apple aperitif - but vermouth is specifically grape based.

All in the name of protecting consumers who don't know what either 'vermouth', or 'aperitif' mean in the first place.

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Is this other brand you're talking about the only brand that uses the word or ingredient you are trying to copy on your bottle?

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The "Big Boys" use different label approval techniques than the "micro's". They submit hundreds of label designs for approval. There is a link on the TTB site, I can't find it right now. It shows all the label approvals, note the dates and label numbers. I've found that if you start out with 5 labels that you would be happy with and make 30 variations on each one that you will net 60 - 75 approvals (some of the approvals are sent 2 minutes apart; is that even time to open the attachment?). Don't even bother trying to fix the rejections, just use one of the approvals. This is the fastest way to an approval. Each submission takes 3.5 to 4 minutes, so just figure that it's going to take 8 - 10 hours to submit the 150 labels.

I've also tried the Full appeal process as an experiment. They sat on it for 90 days and stated that they needed another 90. After the initial 180 days, they still needed more time to review. They called me and I stated that I wanted to come out to Washington and present my case to a federal judge. I had the label approval right around 270 days.

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