Show of hands of every one who has heard of Phyllis Schlafly. OK, so none of you? Well, apparently Phyllis is a conservative activist, mostly known for opposing the Equal Rights Amendment. She is also the aunt (by marriage) of Tom Schlafly, co-founder of St. Louis Brewery, makers of Schlafly beer. And she believes the Schlafly name shouldn’t be awarded a trademark. She has been trying to block this trademark application since 2012.
That fight has now ended, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office coming out in favor of the St. Louis Brewery. The argument was rejected on the grounds that the trademark shouldn’t be awarded because it is a surname. And to be clear, the trademark hasn’t been awarded just yet, but this attempt at blocking the filing has been rejected.
So, I made my jokes, but Phyllis is definitely a known public figure, and if she is indeed as well known as she thinks she is (maybe she is? We aren’t smart), then perhaps she had a point that the brewery was profiting off her name — and doing so with an alcoholic beverage, which, I mean, my god — *faints at the thought.*
Take over, the St. Louis Dispatch:
“In connection with its usage as a surname, it has the connotation of conservative values, which to millions of Americans (such as Baptists and Mormons) means abstinence from alcohol,” Phyllis Schlafly’s filing with the trademark office stated, adding that “an average consumer in Saint Louis and elsewhere would think ‘Schlafly’ is a surname associated with me.”
But of course, none of this has to do with Phyllis. The success of Schlafly is related to its beer, marketing and strategy and its trademark filing is a means for protecting all the founders have built. Schlafly beer is sold at more than 10,000 retail locations in 15 states.
Again from the St. Louis Dispatch:
Phyllis Schlafly argued that the recognition of the brewery’s trademark should be quantitatively compared to the recognition of her surname, but “the statute calls for no such popularity contest,” administrative trademark judge Anthony Masiello wrote in the opinion.
“Over a period of almost 25 years, applicant has conducted its business in such a way as to establish an association between the name Schlafly and its beer,” the opinion stated.
“Inasmuch as there is no evidence of market proximity between (the brewery) and the activities of Phyllis Schlafly, there is no reason to believe that those activities have interfered with the ability of customers to associate” the brewery’s trademark with its goods, the opinion continued.