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Thread: Taproom beer-naming question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    9

    Taproom beer-naming question

    Quick question PB,
    One of our brewery’s owners wants to name a beer (which we will only sell on our taproom) a particular name which is already in use by another Brewery. Despite attempts to come up with something unique, this owner is firm on the use.(smh) If this similarly named beer is out of state and not being distributed outside of their local area, what kind of hornets nest are we stirring up, by moving forward? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
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    54
    Owners, right? Well, given that you and the brewery whose IP you're infringing are not selling the beer in the same market, you're probably fine. Someone would have to come to your brewery and see that you're using the same name, then care enough to say something. It comes down to how much the other brewery cares about its trademark (if it has one) and how litigious they are. So don't go making a label, or a bunch of merch with the name on it. At worst, you'll get a C&D letter and have to rename it. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Polson, Montana, USA
    Posts
    1,272
    Quote Originally Posted by GinoG View Post
    Quick question PB,
    One of our brewery’s owners wants to name a beer (which we will only sell on our taproom) a particular name which is already in use by another Brewery. Despite attempts to come up with something unique, this owner is firm on the use.(smh) If this similarly named beer is out of state and not being distributed outside of their local area, what kind of hornets nest are we stirring up, by moving forward? Thanks!
    Why, oh why, would the owner want to intentially use an existing beer name and open up the business to legal hassles? Isn’t the business challenging enough?
    Years ago, I was making a smoked ale just for my tap room. The name included the name of a well know patron saint of brewers. A brewery across the country from me, already using that name, contacted me with a cease and desist, which I honored. The point is just because it’s only for your tap room does not mean you are not infringing on their trademark.
    Change the name. Get creative. Engage your customers to come up with a new name, turn it into a promotion.
    Otherwise this seems unnecessarily reckless.
    My two cents.
    Prost!
    Dave
    Glacier Brewing Company
    406-883-2595
    glacierbrewing@bresnan.net

    "who said what now?"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,000

    And what say do you have?

    The ones who want this name own the brewery? You're on record as opposed? You're a paid employee? Then you've done your job and don't need to worry. Move on to more pressing issues. It's not such a big deal. And it's not your problem.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Littleton, CO
    Posts
    43

    Common law trademarks

    Merely using a name for a beer does create common law trademark rights. Common law rights are limited geographically to the area of use, and a reasonable zone of expansion.

    Here, assuming the other party does not distribute in your territory, it may be the case that their rights would not be infringed by your use.

    That said, if the other party owns a federal trademark registration, their rights would be throughout the US, and your use would likely be infringing. Also, the other party may complain or threaten you with action if you proceed with the name, but that depends on the other party's litigiousness.
    Dan Christopherson
    Christopherson Brew Law
    Littleton, CO 80128
    (720) 515-8773
    dan@brew.law
    brew.law

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    633
    I would recommend that you call the other brewery and make a gentleman's agreement on this. Having been on the other end of this same situation, I would have been much happier having someone asking for permission than asking for forgiveness.

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