Alright, craft brewers, say it with us: Trademarks are important! Extremely important. It seems that not a week goes by without hearing about another trademark battle between craft brewers, and this week is no different. Once known as Shed Brewing, owners Blong Thao and Jeff Tolonen had to change the name of their six month old brewpub to 127 Brewing after they received a letter from D.C. saying they were in violation of a trademark. Michigan Live reports:
“We were aware there had been a place called The Shed Brewing, but when we looked it up, it was closed,” Tolonen said. “So, we didn’t think there would be any problem.”
What they didn’t know was The Shed Brewing, a Vermont brewery, had been purchased by Otter Creek Brewing, also in Vermont. The latter still holds the right to and distributes product under the name The Shed.
“It wasn’t a cease-and-desist or anything like that, but they did let us know if we didn’t change our name, there would be legal action,” Tolonen said.
We’ve detailed messy trademark battles before, but here’s a case where just the threat of legal action was enough to make the 127 Brewing crew nervous enough to revise the name, even after they thought they had their bases covered. Starting a craft brewery is hard enough, and with the increased competitiveness of the market, you want to make sure that you know what you’re doing with your trademarks. And the best way to do that is to get professional help.
Before cutting the check to your trademark attorney, be sure to check out our three-part trademark series written by Candace L. Moon, a San Diego-based attorney who has spent the last four years dedicating her law practice to the craft beer industry.