Monday, January 11, 2016

Trademark Applications for Craft Beer On the Rise?

Only 158 federal trademarks applications were filed on January 3rd (it was a Sunday, at after) but 11 of those applications related to beer. This follows a trend I've noticed recently as I've monitored trademark application filings at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on an almost daily basis for the past six months. Without fail, I will see multiple applications for beer-related trademarks, especially craft beer trademarks, everyday.
For example, the trademark applications shown above were filed on January 3rd, a relatively slow day at the USPTO, and they all relate to beer (sometimes the name of a beer, sometimes of a brewery, and other times for a bar/restaurant). Some of those applications filed on that date were for the following:
Craft brewers should pay attention to these filings as the craft brewery trademark field gets more and more crowded. For each trademark application that matures into a full registration, that beer or brewery name becomes unavailable nationwide for other breweries (with few exceptions). Use of that trademark by another brewery may then result in cease and desist letters and liability for trademark infringement.

On the other hand, a craft brewery that develops a unique name for its brewery or a particular beer can utilize the USPTO to secure a nationwide monopoly over that name. Unique logos on cans or for the brewery itself can also be protected in a similar manner. In some circumstances, a brewery can even file a trademark application for a name or logo it is not yet using to "reserve" rights in that name when the time comes to put the beer on the market.

I expect to see more and more craft beer-related trademarks filed by breweries across the country throughout 2016 as they continue to develop unique names for themselves and their beer.

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