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Kentucky Mist Moonshine drops lawsuit against UK over ‘Kentucky’ trademark

Caps for sale at Kentucky Mist moonshine distillery in Whitesburg, Ky., on Oct. 27, 2015.
Caps for sale at Kentucky Mist moonshine distillery in Whitesburg, Ky., on Oct. 27, 2015. palcala@herald-leader.com

A small Eastern Kentucky moonshine distillery has dropped a federal lawsuit against the University of Kentucky over trademarks, but that doesn’t mean the case is over.

The attorneys for Kentucky Mist Moonshine and UK are trying to work out an agreement behind the scenes, said James Francis, a lawyer for Kentucky Mist. Neither side would comment further.

In November, the Whitesburg distillery filed suit because UK threatened legal action to stop the company’s registration in a trademark category that includes hats, hooded sweatshirts, jackets, pants, shirts, shoes and socks.

The category is one in which UK claims use of the word “Kentucky” to identify its athletic uniforms and various articles of clothing sold to fans. UK had wanted Kentucky Mist to bow out of trying to register its products in that category; Kentucky Mist had asked the court to rule that there was no infringement by Kentucky Mist Moonshine’s use of the word “Kentucky.”

UK said in court filings this month that the suit was without merit because the university is part of state government and therefore has sovereign immunity.

Kentucky Mist has asked for the case to be dismissed without prejudice, which means it may be filed again. The distillery makes fruit-infused moonshine and employs about a half-dozen people.

Linda Blackford: 859-231-1359, @lbblackford

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