So you’ve got a brewery or you’re planning to start a brewery, what are the typical issues you worry about? Financing, federal and state licensing, recipe formulation, hop contracts, distribution, employees, mash pH, and a million other things. One issue that is frequently overlooked by both new and experienced brewers, however, is federal trademark registration. While it’s much easier to focus on hard assets like mash tuns and bottling lines, a brewery’s most important piece of property is its brand, and the distillation of your brand is a trademark. Your brand, i.e., your brewery name, beer names, and logos are the link between your beer and your consumers. Brewers spend their blood, sweat, and tears building up brand recognition so that when a customer walks into a bar, that customer will seek out that brewer’s beer. Now imagine that you receive a cease and desist letter and you’re forced to change your brewery or beer name, even after years of use, and all of a sudden your customers aren’t able to make that link. This can be a devastating blow to a brewery, and it is happening more and more these days. There are over 3,000 breweries in America and there are only so many brewery/beer names out there.
A federal trademark is your best (though not an absolute) defense against such a trademark conflict. But there are other benefits to federal trademark registration as well including the following:
So what is the best course of action? First, conduct a proper trademark search before deciding on your brewery name or beer names. Second, apply for and obtain federal trademark registrations, preferably on an intent-to-use filing basis. I will discuss each of these steps, as well as common trademark application rejections, in future blog posts.
This blog is intended to provide general information on a wide range of issues, including legal issues, affecting the brewing industry. It is not intended to provide specific legal advice and no legal advice is given. You understand that merely using this blog does not create an attorney client relationship between you and Harris Beach PLLC or Brendan Palfreyman. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.