Your Correspondent Goes to Jacques Torres, Gets Free Champagne Kiss

According to this article in DumboNYC, local chocolatier Jacques Torres has been threatened with a trademark infringement lawsuit by choco-giant Hershey’s because of Torres’ use of the name “Champagne Kiss” for a confection he created a couple of years ago for Valentine’s Day. Hershey’s alleges that Torres’ use of “Kiss” infringes on its trademark “Hershey’s Kisses” used for its famous conical chocolate drops. Torres’ creation is a rectangular solid piece of dark or milk chocolate, hard on the outside but with a soft center, and bearing a red imprint in the shape of a woman’s lips. According to Torres, the two confections are so dissimilar that no one is likely to confuse them, and Hershey’s trademark only applies to “kisses” not “kiss.” To support his argument, Torres invited chocolate lovers to enjoy a free sample Champagne Kiss at his store on Water Street in DUMBO, an invitation that your correspondent was happy to accept (see photo). My verdict? Delicious, with a hint of Champagne flavor, and most unlikely to be confused with the Hershey product.

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  • AEB

    “…To support his argument, Torres invited chocolate lovers to enjoy a free sample Champagne Kiss at his store on Water Street in DUMBO…”

    Hmmm. So I prove my use of a word that you say is yours, albeit in a different form, is OK, I invite you to try the product?

    WTF?! As they say in these cyber parts…..

  • AEB

    …that should be, “…so to prove…”


  • Curmudgeon

    I agree no one can confuse Hershey’s with Jacques Torres, but apparently the Hershey Company still insists that – “You must remember this. A kiss is still a kiss…”

    Good Luck, Jacques!

  • Claude Scales

    AEB: the purpose of the tasting was to get support for the first part of Torres’ argument, that the Champagne Kiss is unlikely to be confused with Hershey’s Kisses based on its taste and appearance. No Hershey’s Kisses were available for comparison; presumably Torres thought everyone is likely to be familiar enough with them.

  • AEB

    So, Claude, the tasters were all media folks of reach?

    Guess I’m just envious of those who got “kissed.” But then, May 1 is the Czech national public kissing day (you’ve got to find a cherry tree, under which a kiss becomes, supposedly, a bond-strengthener), so I could just fly over….

    Though DUMBO IS just a…kiss away. (Sorry!)

  • Claude Scales

    The tasters were whoever read about the thing, or just happened to wander into the shop. After tasting, you were encouraged to mark a paper ballot indicating whether you thought Torres should be allowed to continue using the name “Champagne Kiss.” There were separate receptacles for “Yes” and “No” votes. As expected, the “Yes” basket was nearly overflowing, while “No” held only two slips. One of these simply had “No” checked, while the other had a comment, “Why not call it the Smooch?”

    Czech national kissing day? Kinda gives a new dimension to “Prague Spring.”

    I love allusions to “Gimme Shelter” despite its having been the soundtrack to my miserable last month of law school, during which I feverishly wrote the third year paper I should have been working on all year, and which was punctuated by the Kent State shootings.

  • john

    clearly this is a marketing stunt….hersheys doesnt give a crap about jacques torres

  • The Where

    Yes they do – remember it’s not the Jacques Torres Highway for nothin!

  • hoppy

    The Champagne Kiss Highway is on the other side of the Hershey Highway.

  • Anne

    Doesn’t surprise me that Hershey’s is trying to overprotect its trademark. That is like the trendy thing to do these days. I think Torres got the wrong memo from his lawyer, though – it doesn’t matter whether the tasters *think* they should be able to keep using the word, the key is whether the tasters were confused as to whether the chocolate kiss was made by Hershey’s or not. (Assuming Torres is being threatened with a traditional trademark “likelihood of confusion” suit.) Not that this is the most scientific evidence, but those cases can make use of anecdotal evidence re consumer perception…

    Anywho, with my Brooklyn Law education and economy in the toilet I can’t afford Torres chocolate so I’ll just have to take your word for it that the kiss was yummy!

  • Jack Torrez

    I’m going to open a chocolate shop closer to the tourist mecca of Grimaldi’s and the pier, but instead of selling fine chocolates, I’m going to make cheap confections under my own label, Jack Torrez, and charge a fortune for them.
    I wonder if that guy down the Water St. (what’s his name?) would think I was infringing on his turf? I mean, it’s a free market and how could anyone possibly confuse us? If he has a problem with it, he’s just being paranoid and trying to squash the little guy trying to make a buck.

    Once I’ve made my money, I’ll buy up Ignazio’s and rename it Patty Grimali’s.