Trademark disputes can be scary when it’s a smaller brewery being accused by a larger brewery, but sometimes it pays to stick to your guns and play the process our rather than back down. Here is one such example, as reported on by MLive: Bell’s Brewery opposed the name of Innovation Brewing Co., Jackson County, N.C., being registered as a trademark on the grounds that the name was too close to its marketing phrases of “Inspired brewing” and “Bottling innovation since 1985,” and might then confuse a reasonable consumer.
This thing dates all the way back to 2014. Imagine being Innovation Brewing, trying to market your brand during that nearly four-year limbo. Man.
Anyway, this complaint was finally dismissed by the appeals board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Among other things, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded that Bell’s tag lines “have not been used and/or advertised conjointly in such a manner and to such an extent in connection with a single product that they have come to be associated together in the mind of the purchasing public.”
Regarding the words “inspired” and “innovation” it found: “There simply is no overlap in the meanings of these two words. Opposer’s argument that both words have a similar connotation in, at a minimum, denoting a positive attribute as applied to beer, such that they will be confused and mistaken by consumers as one for the other or as coming from the same source … is insufficient.”
And as always, to be fair to the filer of the opposition, trademark law requires those holding trademarks to be vigilant for this stuff.
“We are not suing them. We have not asked them for money,” she stated in a March 2015 comment on MLive. “We have not asked them to stop selling their beer. We are asking them to withdraw their federal trademark application. Our concern is with their United States trademark application and potential impact on our brand, which we have spent 30 years building.”