Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Trademark disputes bubbling up among craft brewers

The clever names that craft brewers give their drinks might attract beer enthusiasts in New Jersey, but the labels that often draw upon regional traits have become a source of trademark disputes. Stony Creek Brewery, located on the East Coast, has filed a federal lawsuit against Peak Organic Brewing and Shipyard Brewing on the West Coast.

According to court filings, Stony Creek Brewery claims that the similarity between Peak Organic's Ripe beer and Stony Creek's Ripe 'n' Cranky confuses consumers. The lawsuit included Shipyard Brewing as a defendant because that facility produces the beverage for Peak Organic Brewing. The two companies have until January 2019 to prepare a response to the accusations.

Only one year ago, Shipyard Brewing took legal action against Logboat Brewing because of alleged trademark infringement. Shipyard asserted that the Shiphead brew from Logboat violated the rights of Shipyard. That lawsuit included a defamation complaint in response to the negative social media backlash against Shipyard that the company attributed to Logboat. A federal judge has already dismissed the defamation portion of the lawsuit.

Companies sometimes resort to intellectual property litigation because of the value of their trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. A business owner who needs to establish or defend intellectual property may wish to work with an attorney. When choosing names and marketing messages, an attorney might conduct research and alert the person to similar names that could result in a dispute. Legal representation may also aid someone who needs to confront an infringing party or respond to an accusation of infringement. An attorney may be able to document a company's claims to intellectual property and defend the client's position in court.

Source: Maine Biz, "Craft brewer drops the niceties in lawsuit over trademarks", June 8, 2018

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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