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Warner Brothers, the film studio that owns the rights to the Willy Wonka movies, has asked the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to stop a Georgia craft brewer’s use of “Golden Ticket” as the name for a chocolate stout beer, claiming that the name could lead some to believe the filmmaker is promoting underage drinking. Warner Bros. Entm’t Inc. v. S. Sky Brewing Co., No. 91233169 (T.T.A.B., filed March 1, 2017). In the Willy Wonka movies, children who found golden tickets tucked inside chocolate­-bar packaging won a tour of the chocolate factory and a chance to win a grand prize. Warner Brothers claims the name “Golden Ticket” is an “intent to capitalize” on the popularity of the films, alleging that Southern Sky’s beer is advertised as “reminiscent of a chocolate hazelnut candy bar and as creamy as chocolate milk,” reinforcing the “mental association”…

A Brazilian appeals court has reportedly affirmed a lower court’s order to AmBev S/A to pay a former employee about $14,800 for moral damages related to his job as a beer taster, which he alleged led to his alcoholism. AmBev argued that it was not liable because the employee’s beer-tasting activities were voluntary. The court disagreed, finding that employers have a duty to avoid exposing their employees to the “inherent risks of the job activities,” even if voluntary. AmBev failed to demonstrate the proper care toward the plaintiff’s health, the court held, because it did not monitor his health throughout his employment as a beer taster, it did not train him on the symptoms of alcoholism or other related conditions, and it told him that if he was declared addicted he would need to seek treatment himself. See Superior Council of Labor Justice (Conselho Superior da Justiça do Trabalho), November 28,…

Rapper Snoop Dogg and Pabst Brewing Co. have reportedly reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit disputing a Colt 45® endorsement deal that the rapper argued entitled him to a portion of the proceeds when the brand was sold to Blue Ribbon Intermediate Holdings in 2014. Snoop Dogg’s claims survived Pabst’s motion to dismiss in February 2016 and motion for summary judgment in August 2016. Details about the motion to dismiss appear in Issue 595 of this Update. See The Hollywood Reporter, October 7, 2016.   Issue 619

A Texas judge has reportedly voided a 2013 law prohibiting Texas craft-beer brewers from selling territorial rights to distribute their beers, finding the state had no compelling state interest in restricting the breweries. The statute was part of a package of other laws benefitting small breweries, but the distribution limitation was apparently inserted at the behest of large Texas wholesalers. The rule prevented brewers from receiving monetary compensation for distribution rights. The brewer who challenged the law, a former plaintiffs’ attorney, told Texas Lawyer, “It restores millions of dollars of value to brewers who had their rights taken from them for no justifiable reason.” See Houston Chronicle, August 26, 2016; Texas Lawyer, August 29, 2016.   Issue 617

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) will reportedly vote on a proposed rule requiring brewers to collect personal information from purchasers of beer for off-premises consumption. The proposed rule, which requires gathering a customer’s name, address, age and phone number, follows a rule enacted June 1 allowing craft breweries to sell six-packs, large bottles and other containers of beer. The rule’s purpose may relate to enforcement of Alabama’s 288-ounce limit on single purchases, but the ABC has reportedly not publicly commented on the reasoning underlying the proposal. The board will vote on September 28, 2016. See Associated Press, August 5, 2016.   Issue 614

Following a consumer complaint, the Beer Institute has reviewed Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC’s Super Bowl ad featuring comedians Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer discussing the “biggest caucus in the country” and determined the ad does not violate the industry group’s marketing standards. Under the standards, “advertising and marketing materials should not contain languages or images that are lewd or indecent in the context presented and the medium in which the material appears.” The consumer argued that the use of “caucus” could be interpreted as sexually suggestive in context, but the review board disagreed, finding, “From the perspective of a reasonable adult consumer of legal drinking age, the mere use of a sexually suggestive pun would not be seen as ‘vile,’ ‘inciting to lust or lechery,’ patently offensive, or offending recognized standards of good taste.” The board pointed to similar puns appearing on “Live with Kelly & Michael” and “comments from Marco…

One day after U.K. citizens voted to leave the European Union, Samuel Adams® brewer Boston Beer Co. filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register “Brexit” for use on hard cider products. U.S. Trademark Application Serial No. 87083390 (filed June 24, 2016). Two other applications for Brexit marks were filed the same day in the categories of dietary supplements and clothing. A Boston Beer Co. spokesperson reportedly declined to detail the company’s plans for its Brexit mark. See The Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2016.   Issue 610

Siding with the owners of the Empire State Building, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has refused to register a logo for “NYC Beer” featuring a drawing of the building. ESRT Empire State Bldg. v. Liang, No. 91204122 (T.T.A.B., order entered June 17, 2016). Claiming ownership of a trademark in a line drawing featuring the building, ESRT Empire State Building filed an opposition to Michael Liang’s application to register a black-and-white image resembling the Empire State Building circled by a black ring and the words “NYC Beer.” TTAB found that the image was likely to dilute ESRT’s mark, finding that Liang’s description in his application of “a building resembling the Empire State Building” belied his argument that the design could be a different building. Accordingly, the board refused to grant the trademark.   Issue 609

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) has proposed legislation that would revise the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law (Blue Laws) to modernize the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in New York state. The new rules would also consolidate licensing and reduce “burdensome fees for wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries statewide.” In particular, the legislation would (i) lift restrictions on Sunday morning sales of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishes; (ii) allow the New York State Liquor Authority to consider exceptions to the “Two Hundred Foot Law” that prohibits the dispensation of full liquor licenses to establishments within 200 feet of a school or place of worship; (iii) combine craft manufacturing licenses into one application to reduce the paperwork burden on small breweries, wineries and distilleries; (iv) authorize the sale of wine in growlers and allow customers to take home unfinished bottles of wine; (v) reduce fees for craft beverage salespeople; and (vi) reduce…

A California federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that Diageo PLC misrepresents Red Stripe® beer as brewed in Jamaica, finding “no reasonable consumer would be misled into thinking that Red Stripe is made in Jamaica with Jamaican ingredients based on the wording of the packaging and labeling.” Dumas v. Diageo PLC, No. 15-1681 (S.D. Cal., order entered April 6, 2016). Details about the complaint appear in Issue  574 of this Update. Bottle trays for six and 12-packs of Red Stripe® include, as the court explained, “the language ‘Jamaican Style Lager and ‘The Taste of Jamaica,’” the Diageo-Guinness USA logo and a disclaimer on the bottom of the packaging that states, “Brewed and bottled by Red Stripe Beer Company Latrobe, PA.” Citing a Second Circuit opinion finding that the description of a knife as a “Swiss Army knife” does not imply it was made in Switzerland, the court found that the “mere…

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