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A Massachusetts federal court has dismissed half of the claims in a lawsuit alleging Diageo-Guinness misrepresents where its Guinness Stout beer is brewed. O’Hara v. Diageo-Guinness USA Inc., No. 15-14139 (D. Mass., entered March 27, 2018). The plaintiff alleged that the “Frequently Asked Questions” page of Guinness’ website stated that “All Guinness sold in the UK, Ireland, and North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin," while a disclosure on Guinness bottles sold in the United States indicate that the product is “Imported by DIAGEO – Guinness USA, Stamford, CT. Brewed and bottled by Guinness Brewing Company, New Brunswick, Canada. Product of Canada.” The court dismissed three of the six causes of action because the bottling and packaging labels were approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. A misrepresentation claim and two claims for violations of state consumer-protection laws will…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Pabst Brewing Company LLC's Olympia beer labels falsely imply the product is brewed from artesian water in Washington despite being brewed in a facility in Los Angeles. Peacock v. Pabst Brewing Co. LLC, No. 18-0568 (E.D. Cal., filed March 15, 2018). The complaint alleges that although Olympia was originally brewed with artesian water in Washington, Pabst shifted production to California after it acquired the company in 1999. The plaintiff further argues that the beer may be brewed using chlorinated municipal water, that the brewery’s water supply has previously been contaminated with industrial solvents and that two Superfund sites are located within three miles of the brewery. According to the complaint, Olympia's website credits the Washington water for its premium taste. Alleging violations of California consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, corrective advertising, damages and application of the common fund…

The Australian Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) has upheld complaints that Rusty Yak Ginger Ale's advertising, which urged viewers to “stop the ginger gene” from spreading by looking for bottles of the product hidden in six-packs of beer, was offensive to people with red hair. Carlton and United Breweries ran the television and internet ads for the product and told ASB the ads were intended to launch the product “in an affectionate, light-hearted and humorous way by linking the hair colour with [its] ‘crisp and zingy Rusty Yak gingery flavor.’” The Ad Standards Community Panel considered the ad in relation to its advertising code of ethics, which refers to discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity and other personal characteristics. The panel said, “DNA can be considered to be related to ancestry and descent . . . in this context the reference to people with red hair falls within the definition of…

American Beverage Corp., which sells alcohol cocktails under the “Darty” mark, has filed a notice of opposition to Boston Beer Co.’s application for a “Day Party” mark for beer. Am. Bev. Corp. v. Boston Beer Corp., No. 91239170 (T.T.A.B., notice filed January 29, 2018). The notice asserts that the "colloquial meaning of DARTY is 'Day Party.'" American Beverage claims priority in filing and first use date, and the notice alleges that the goods are so similar as to cause consumer confusion about their source.

A California federal court has refused to dismiss a trademark infringement and right of publicity lawsuit filed by the estate of Thelonious Monk against a craft brewery selling “Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale,” finding the estate sufficiently pleaded all causes of action. Monk v. North Coast Brewing Co., No. 17-5015 (N.D. Cal., entered January 31, 2018). Monk’s son had agreed to allow North Coast Brewing Co. to use the musician’s name, likeness and image on the ale in exchange for the brewery’s donation of a portion of the profits to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, but he allegedly revoked his consent because the brewer extended the use to apparel and other merchandise. The court found plausible that the estate had a protectable interest in Monk’s name, image and likeness and that it had alleged enough facts to support a possible finding of likelihood of confusion. Although it noted…

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has affirmed a refusal to register microbrewery 8-Bit Aleworks' application for a trademark despite an agreement between the company and 8bit Brewing Company specifying that 8bit did not object to the use. In re 8-Brewing LLC, No. 86760527 (T.T.A.B., entered October 30, 2017). The court found the consent agreement to be ambiguous and confusing as to which marks were covered by the agreement and vague as to how trade dress and packaging would distinguish the products. Further, the agreement failed to demonstrate how the companies' trade channels were different. Accordingly, the court held that “the shortcomings in the consent agreement are such that consumer confusion remains likely” and affirmed the refusal to register the mark.

A Texas appeals court has held that Mark Anthony Brewing cannot produce and label a house-brand beer for TGI Friday’s restaurants because state law prohibits “overlapping” relationships among alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n v. Mark Anthony Brewing, Inc., No. 16-0039 (Texas Ct. App., entered October 13, 2017). The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) rejected Mark Anthony Brewing's application for approval of the beer labels, which it created as part of a licensing agreement with TGI Friday's, on the grounds that Texas’ “tied-house” statutes prohibit such business relationships. Specifically, TABC found, the agreement violated the part of the administrative code providing that “[n]o application for a label shall be approved which indicates by any statement, design, device, or representation that the malt beverage is a special or private brand brewed or bottled for, or that includes the name, trade name, or trademark of any retailer permittee or…

Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Enterprises, which owns trademarks on the phrase “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere" and several variations, has challenged The Veteran Beverage Company's application to register "It’s 1700 Hours Somewhere.” Margaritaville Enters. v. Veteran Beverage Co., No. 91236809 (T.T.A.B., filed September 22, 2017). The notice alleges that the trademark application is for beer, which is closely related to Margaritaville’s beverage and bar services marks, and that the only difference is that it shows 5:00 p.m. in military time.

The estate of Thelonious Monk has alleged that North Coast Brewing, maker of “Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale,” violated the estate's trademark and publicity rights. Monk v. North Coast Brewing Co. Inc., No. 17-5015 (N.D. Cal., filed Aug. 29, 2017). According to the complaint, the estate verbally granted the brewer the right to use Monk’s name, image and likeness “for the limited purpose of marketing and distributing” the ale in exchange for the brewer’s agreement to donate a portion of the profits to the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of California, Los Angeles, but later revoked the rights in 2016. The estate alleges North Coast has exceeded its rights by using the musician’s name or likeness on other merchandise, including cups, hats, hoodies or posters. Alleging trademark infringement, right of publicity and unjust enrichment, the estate seeks an injunction, profits attributable to the alleged violations, damages…

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has reversed a refusal to register “The Cannibal” as a mark for beer to Iron Hill Brewery, finding little likelihood of confusion between the beer and a restaurant called “The Cannibal Beer & Butcher.” In re Iron Hill Brewery, No. 86682532 (TTAB, entered July 28, 2017). The board found that Cannibal Beer & Butcher failed to show that consumers would be confused by Iron Hill's use of "Cannibal" because the beer product that the brewery provides is different from the restaurant services provided by Cannibal Beer & Butcher. "In light of the large number of restaurants in the United States, the facts that a single mark is sometimes used [to] identify restaurant services and beer, that some restaurants are associated with breweries, and that restaurants may sell beer are not sufficient to establish a relationship between restaurant…

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