Let me toss an unsettling fact at you, but please don’t drop that beer you’re holding. In 2018, there were more than 169,000 beer-related trademarks filed worldwide. That’s nuts. How can you, craft brewer, constantly come up with new and exciting products to sell (which the market often demands) and trademark those brands? I mean, are there any trademarks even left?
Settle down and grab another brewski.
I think we all understand that in a U.S. market that now supports more than 7,000 breweries that your branding is as critical to success as the beer itself. In fact, your marketing and branding is actually even more important than the quality of your beer. According to this Nielson Craft Beer Category Design Audit, 70 percent of consumers choose their beer at time of purchase. Your brand is your story and sales pitch, and your story is how you connect with customers and drive loyalty. Unfortunately, that story can easily be lost in the crowd or worse aped by another brewery.
“Whether intentional or accidental, copycat brands can cause consumer confusion, lost revenue and damage to your hard-earned reputation,” explained IP attorney and craft brew enthusiast Curt Handley. “It’s best to start the trademark search process right away to make sure the brand name(s) you’re considering aren’t already taken by someone else. That will protect you from wasting your marketing dollars, product re-branding, and possible lawsuits. It’s good to have several names ready when you start to avoid delays if one or more aren’t available. With the tight and competitive market of the craft brew industry, you should start the IP process as soon as possible. It’s good to find lawyers that understand the industry since they will generally have dealt with the rejections and issues that can cause problems with pursuing a specific brand name.”
Handley has recently partnered with Trademark.com, which brings together deep trademark expertise and easy-to-use online tech into a user-friendly, all-in-one trademark protection tool. Trademark.com will:
- Monitor marks you care about for possible copycat activity
- Check desired trademarks for similarity against existing and pending marks before you file
- Offer help for filing your trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
The site and service also host a library of educational resources that make the ins and outs of trademark best practices more accessible to non-IP professionals. In fact, Handley and Mara Trumbour, executive product owner of Trademark.com, will explain all of this an exclusive webinar brought to you FREE by Craft Brewing Business titled Bottling Your Brand: What Craft Brewers Need to Know about Trademark Protection. The webinar will be held April 25, and you can sign up via the link above or below. What’s in store?
- Why register your trademark, and what are the risks of not registering?
- Tips on developing brand names with trademark clearance in mind.
- The trademark registration process, step by step, and potential pitfalls.
- The importance of monitoring your trademark—and how to respond if you suspect someone is infringing on your brand.
To sign up for free for Bottling Your Brand: What Craft Brewers Need to Know about Trademark Protection, click right here.