The craft beer industry has grown exponentially over the past 10 years and continues to grow with new brands and products entering the marketplace every day. However, it has also become a highly litigious area as everyone tries to carve out their own beer names within the industry.
With disputes becoming more and more frequent, it’s important to ensure you take certain precautions when creating new craft beers in order to avoid infringing on another company’s rights.
How to Create a Name for Your Craft Beer
One of the things that you can do to minimize the risk of infringement is develop names that are unlike anything else you have seen before. Though consumers will be less likely to form an association with a novel name, you avoid competing with the numerous other beer brands trying to make puns with familiar terms.
For example, while using “hop” in the name of a beer ensures that customers can expect a hoppy beer, you would need to convince consumers to choose your product over the number of other ones using a similar play on words.
How to Trademark the Name of Your Craft Beer
By creating a unique name for your beer, you are also creating a more protectable brand. The best way to ensure your name is unlike other products in the industry is to conduct a proper trademark search for all related goods and services.
This is often what gets craft beer breweries and brewers in trouble because they only look at other beers. In the United States, there is case law that states that beer, wine, hard alcohol, breweries, wineries, and distilleries are related and that consumers are likely to be confused if they see beer and wine with the same name. Whether the realities of the marketplace support that in every situation is open for debate, but, as far as registering a beer trademark with the USPTO, we frequently see a general comparison to all types of alcohol.
If you have already selected a name and you are concerned that it might be infringing, then it’s still important to do a search to try to minimize that risk. Though it’s impossible to remove every risk, running a search can provide you with an overview of what is in the market and warn you of any potential issues.
If you believe the name you want is available, then registering with the USPTO will give you certain advantages over other companies or individuals that try to use a similar name or phrase. If you were the first one to use it, you would be in a good position to ask others to choose a different name that is not confusingly similar to yours.
There are many different considerations to be aware of when naming and protecting brewery products. As the beer industry continues to grow, it’s important to take all the necessary precautions in order to ensure your brand is not infringing on others’ rights, and vice versa. If you have any questions about your beer brand’s trademarks, feel free to reach out to any of the attorneys at Gerben IP.