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Shortage of beer names results in several Trademark disputes

In recent years, the craft beer industry has grown exponentially in the United States, with new brew pubs and microbreweries opening every day. With this growth has come a demand for unique brewery and beer names - and an increase in disputes over Trademark infringement.

Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reports at least 25,000 active Trademark registrations and application are related to beer. This competition for names means that breweries must be thorough in their search for names - and potential infringements. It also means that breweries need to understand Trademark laws and protect their rights when faced with a Trademark dispute.

When naming a startup brewery or a new brew, many people fail to fully research for existing Trademarks. Instead they select names based primarily on their own personal preferences. And many breweries do not take Trademark infringements seriously, even after receiving cease and desist letters from the Trademark owners.

Unfortunately, ignorance over existing Trademarks or the difficulties of creating unique beer-related names are inadequate defenses against lawsuits. With thorough Trademark research, however, you can avoid potential problems and potentially save your brewery time, money and future litigation.

Many naming disputes are resolved out of court or through proceedings with the Patent and Trademark Office. However, there are instances when disputes reach the courtroom, as it did with Brooklyn Brewery out of New York suing a California brewery for their choice of Black Ops Brewing as a name - claiming it was too similar to their beer called Brooklyn Black Ops. After three months of litigation, the brewery was forced to change their name to Tactical Ops Brewing.

Whether you are in the process of naming a brewery or beer, or you are facing infringement issues, contact an intellectual property attorney for the guidance you need.

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