Microbrewers: The Recipe for Craft Beers Includes Trademark Protection…

There’s not enough beer on this blog. Let’s change that.

[Link: The Ska / DuClaw Trademark Dispute Over EUPHORIA, Trademark Lessons for the Craft Brewer]

First, Brian Gregg from law firm McNees Wallace & Nurick gives an overview of the basic steps every craft brewer should take to protect their trademarks. One key takeaway: one brewer’s Euphoria is another’s brand nightmare… Also:

  • Conduct a trademark search before you name your brew
  • File a federal trademark registration to protect your brand name across the country – even if you only plan to sell your beer locally
  • Don’t forget that registration costs are modest compared to a lawsuit

[Link: Craft Beer Boom in Michigan]

In this video, Miller Canfield’s Joe Infante takes a look at the craft beer boom currently underway in Michigan. Of note:

  • Craft beer only makes up 6% of the beer market in the state, so there’s lots of room for expansion
  • The state’s government is doing what it can to encourage continued growth, like simplifying the licensing process for brewers
  • Key business considerations: funding, zoning, and of course, trademark considerations

Finally, summer associate Nancy Pham at law firm Lane Powell walks brewers through the steps of obtaining trademark protection for their microbrews (we know: what on earth could a college student know about beer?). It’s a must-read for anyone in the craft beer industry, because it blends practical advice with real world examples highlighting exactly what can go wrong if you don’t get it right. Like this:

“In recent microbrewery trademark litigations, there is a key player that parties on either side sometimes tend to overlook: the viral power of public opinion. Since your goal is presumably to sell more beer and create a great reputation, one way to achieve that goal is to maintain good relations with beer consumers. Given social networking tendencies these days, your aggressive lawyer’s ‘cease-and-desist’ letter to an alleged infringer may well go viral…

Oftentimes, the side wanting to protect its trademark, often the larger brewery, is viewed as a bully while fans rally around the ‘little guy’ alleged trademark infringer. Additionally, the first side to file suit may be seen by the public as overly aggressive and not living up to the familial spirit of the brewing community…

After California’s Coronado Brewing won in a settlement against Seattle-based Elysian Brewing Co. in a conflict between Coronado’s Idiot IPA and Elysian’s Idiot Sauvin IPA, public outcry to boycott Coronado rang out across blogs, message boards, and various social media platforms because they were seen as being unreasonable for not letting the two beer names coexist.”

[Link: “Hey Barkeep, Pour Me A Pint of…”: Trademark Tips for Microbreweries]

All this writing is making us thirsty…

Find more on Trademark Law at JD Supra>>