December 2, 2014
If you encounter a wine and a beer with the same brand name, would you assume that they came from the same company? Would you think your favorite winery had expanded into the beer market, or your favorite brewer had begun bottling wine as well? This is the essence of a longstanding issue in trademark law. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) tends not to allow a trademark application for beer to proceed if the same or a similar mark is registered for wine, and vice versa. Does this really make sense? And what can be done about it?
September 30, 2014
Everyone’s favorite beloved high-quality American brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A., a société anonyme legally organized under the laws of Belgium, recently tried to protect an unusual bit of intellectual property: the sound of a Budweiser can opening. “Wait, doesn’t that sound like any kind of can opening? How can that be a trademark?” If you’re asking these questions, congratulations, you’re a reasonable human being. So can A-B protect that sound as a trademark?
July 15, 2014
Welcome to another in my ongoing series of posts on craft beer trademark battles. This one is a little different from the rest. Hood River, Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing is best known for its Session Lager, which, according to their website, “comes in a stubby, 11-oz bottle like your grandpa used to buy.” Well, not my grandfather, maybe yours. Full Sail recently filed a complaint for trademark infringement and dilution against Georgia-based The Sessions Law Firm, LLC (we’ll call them “Sessions Law”). What does a brewery have to do with a law firm?
March 25, 2014
Craft Beer Trademarks: Nitro Edition A controversy has arisen regarding Left Hand Brewing, a Colorado-based craft brewer, and their attempt to protect the word NITRO as a trademark for some of their beers. What’s behind this apparent attempt to monopolize a common term in the beer industry – and have Anheuser-Busch and the producer of Guinness arisen as the unlikely saviors?