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Abstract

This Note examines the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)’s label review process and the judicial split regarding the “safe harbor” doctrine in the context of alcoholic beverage labels. This Note observes that the judicial split is a result of the tension between two conflicting priorities stemming from the TTB’s purpose and identity: on one hand, courts apply Chevron deference to the TTB as a federal agency enforcing federal law, but on the other hand, courts aim to uphold the central purpose of the Federal Alcohol Administration (FAA) Act—protecting consumers from misinformation. Ultimately, this Note, by examining the FAA Act’s text and history and comparing its purpose to that of international trademark and appellations law, argues that the latter position is correct: by refraining from deferring to the TTB simply because it is a federal agency, courts can hold the TTB and producers more accountable for providing consumers with accurate information.

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