Fires Out in Bend
Wildfire Brewing told to find new name
Bend, Oregon’s newest brewery is Wildfire Brewing, or at least it was, because Chicago-based restaurant chain Wildfire Steaks, Chops & Seafood recently sent a cease and desist letter to the fledgling brewery giving them six-months to change the name. And while the restaurant chain operates in only Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Georgia — and doesn’t brew beer — Wildfire Brewery owner Garret Wales decided it wasn’t worth the fight.
The Oregon brewery simply couldn’t match the cash of the well-established chain for lawyer’s fees. It’s not clear that the restaurant chain would have prevailed. The two operate in separate geographic regions with a wide gap in between the two and only the brewery makes beer, so it’s hard to see where the confusion on the part of customers might be. But the brewery might one day want to serve food, too, and decided to change its name instead.
According to Wales, the challenge now is finding a new name.
“Shoot, we’re going on the Internet and just typing in beer, or going to the thesaurus. Googling Oregon geography and seeing if there’s some landmarks that haven’t already been trademarked. Butte, or mountain - the river’s kinda tied up obviously. Seems like everything locally Deschutes has used already.”
So far, they’ve narrowed it down to five possibilities. But they’re also opening it up to customers, distributing fliers in their market asking the public to suggest a name. If they use on of the names submitted, Wildfire Brewery will give the winning submission a free kegerator
I think all brewers should boycott and refuse to sell product ( and yes you can do that even through a distributor) to Chicago-based restaurant chain Wildfire Steaks, Chops & Seafood unless they drop this nonsense, if you look at the precedence being set then all the businesses with the word dog in them can send same letters to each other or heck if you have the word brewing in your breweries name where does it stop ? BTW I Google’d business with wildfire in the name and quickly found 5 that predate the restaurant, so I think Wildfire brewing should contact them to put the heat on the restaurant chain! If they want help I will help will the rest of you?
Laughing Dog Brewing
I am going through a similar thing, except with a winery (Ravenswood) regarding trademark oppositon. There is nothing more I can say here that would be fit for public posting...
Last edited by beauxman; 09-05-2008 at 12:10 PM.
I agree, it is nonsense-but unfortunately your plan of boycott only (i htink) would involve the big three, probably Sam, Guiness/Bass/Harp and possibly local beer, Goose Island. Sadly, this type of company is not beating down the door for us little guys.
Originally Posted by Laughing Dog
Beaux, a similar situation happened in Eugene with Willamette, now Oakshire. Get ahold of them if you need any advice.
Wildfire Brewing vs Wildfire Restaurant
First, I WILL help.!!!
I agree, you guys at Wildfire Brewing should probably continue the fight. Use the internet to show past precedence, let the restaurant know they do not own that name, and I for one, living in Chicago area, will personally make the effort to reach out to some one of importance at the restaurant and let them know how ridiculous this is, and that I will no longer support that restaurant, and will encourage friends and relatives NOT to support the restaurant either.
I think Wildfire Brewing has plenty of good arguments in their favor that would allow you to succeed, most importantly the geographic separation and an operating brewery vs none, but I do also understand the potential financial investment that may have to be made, so do you or do you not fight this battle? Ultimately that is your decision.
When and where will this type of nonsense ever end?
Good luck, and let's see more support here from the public for Wildfire Brewery.!!!!!
beauxman : Sorry to hear about that. We served Ravenswood zinfandel at our wedding a few years ago (before they went "public"); I do not know anything about Constellation, but it is sad to see another example of the headaches that big corporations bring to business.
And yes, there were one or two beers served too.
If we could only devote 1/1000th the acreage devoted to raising attorney's to raising hops we'd be stylin'.
No beer for them!
Although I don't distribute out that way. I wouldn't send em any of my beer. It seems to me that they are just flexing their muscles to scare you into changing your name. Remember just because you get a cease and dissist doesn't mean the sender has any actual legal ground to stand on. Its a tough descision but I think you could probably fight. You should talk to a lawyer, if you have not already. In fact talk to a couple if you can, they often have different opinions, and are willing to give some advice gratis.
It would be nice if in the future there was a way for the BA to be able to assist in legal matters regarding our trade. Maybe raise the dues a few bucks and start some sort of collective database for us to draw from regarding legal actions and research?
Last edited by beauxman; 09-05-2008 at 12:09 PM.
Ravenswood do have a Web site with a Contact Us form. Fancy that.
So every time somebody uses the word "Raven" in a trade name, it violates your copyright?
Hmmm. How much do you gentlemen reckon YOU owe ME?
My solicitors will be in touch. Expect a cease-and-desist order in which the word "Nevermore" is fairly prominent, a sort of theme or in the German, leitmotif, actually.
E. A. Poe
This is Frivilous...Fight!
I am a lawyer and also part owner of a brewery. I do transactional business work and some trademark work. I am only licensed to practice in one jurisdiction and I do not represent any one here so DO NOT take this post as legal advise.
With both “Wildfire” and “Ravenswood” I would tell those scum sucking attorney’s to pound sand. These claims are totally crap. There are some basics to trademark law that one has to understand. The burden is on the challenger to prove that the alleged infringer’s usage of a name or mark is likely to result in confusion, mistake, or deception by consumers. This legal analysis generally relies on a number of factors set forth by the federal courts. Among the most important of such factors are: (1) the degree of similarity between the marks; (2) the physical proximity of the goods in the market; (3) the strength of the challenger’s mark; (4) degree of care consumers exercise in purchasing the goods; (5) actual confusion of the two goods; (6) evidence of the alleged infringers intent to cause confusion, mistake or deception.
When a company “trademarks” a name or mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), they must do so under a certain and specific Goods & Services Classification (“G&S Class”), noted by an “IC” code. If registration on the USPTO Principal Register is successful, the owner of the registered mark gains federal protection of their mark for that certain G&S Class, however, the protection is merely that the mark is presumed to be protected and the owner has access to the USPTO for enforcement, as opposed to common law enforcement in state court.
Beer has its own G&S Class, IC 032. Therefore, to claim federal protection, the word “Wildfire” or “Raven” must be registered under IC 032.
Regarding “Wildfire”, the only “Wildfire” mark registered with the USPTO having anything to do with food services is:
This is under IC 042 for “restaurant services”. Sorry, this does not include beer.
Regarding “Ravenswood”, the winery is USPTO registered under IC 033 (“wine”) and IC 025 (“clothing”) and NOT IC 032 (“beer”). Therefore, they have no protection under beer to the term “Raven”. Also, the exact word mark “Ravenswood” is also registered by a company making fine china under IC 021. This registration predates the winery’s filing date of their mark by 20 years. It makes no difference that you can drink wine & beer but you can’t drink china, a different IC code is a different IC code. However, it looks like the problem that “Black Raven” is facing is opposition of the USPTO registration of their mark. It should be a cut and dry case due to the IC code issue, however, this is a classic issue of a big company bogging this down in the USPTO procedure, which is expensive and takes a long time. They already have events in the USPTO administrative courts set through March of 2009 (Isn’t America wonderful?). Beauxman, I am sorry you are going through this.
This is a more detailed response to a post than I have ever made but jacka$$ lawyers like the ones threatening fellow brewers give my profession a bad name. It infuriates me. Generally, you don’t need a lot of money to respond, do some research on the USPTO website, know your rights and write your own letter telling them to each $hit. If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself in beauxman’s situation, get a good friend that is a lawyer, trade him beer for advice.
Again, this is NOT legal advice. Please take you own time to look at the trademark issues (Wikipedia is great, even real lawyers use is); or contact your own attorney. If you are educated before you go into his/her office, it will save you time and money.
Thanks Adam, everything you said is right. We have two lawyers, both specialties in this stuff. Bottom line is money, time, energy not whether or not we are right.
This is just pure bullshi_ and I very seldom swear.
It is time someone grabbed these idiots by the throat and told them the English language is not for sale. The poor fellow in Texas with Starbock - guess who crushed him? (I don't remember coffee being a key ingredient of Bock beer do you?) A sad case of a restaurant for years called Zorro's in Indianapolis that suddenly had to change its name when the Banderas version of the movie with that word in the title came out.
It is pure crap and someone needs to form a league and crush these slime balls. By the way it is time someone renamed a certain restaurant chain by its true name "Krocdonalds". Look out for the big K everyone!