The craft beer industry is expanding rapidly and it seems a new brewery opens, or an existing brewery expands, almost daily. As a result, craft beer industry trademark disputes are occurring with increased frequency. Colorado’s Ska Brewing Company recently initiated what may prove to be a messy trademark dispute with Maryland’s DuClaw Brewery, when Ska filed a petition to cancel DuClaw’s trademark registrations for EUPHORIA and EUFORIA before the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. While DuClaw owns registrations for EUPHORIA, Ska has argued that those registrations were applied for after it had established common law rights to the EUPHORIA trademark. It is likely this dispute would have been avoided if either brewery had followed some basic trademark practices. Regardless of how it is resolved, there is a lot a craft brewer can take away from the Ska/DuClaw dispute.
The key to avoiding the disruption and financial drain of a trademark dispute is to have a strategy that involves (1) comprehensive trademark searching and clearance before launching a new trademark and
(2) registration of key trademarks (i.e., the brewery’s name and flagship products). More and more brewers are realizing the value of investing a little time and money up front to avoid major trademark headaches and expenses down the road. Not conducting trademark searches or registering trademarks is risky and likely to lead to a Ska/DuClaw type of dispute where both breweries spend time and money but neither really wins.
Click here to view the entire online video post on The Ska/DuClaw Trademark Dispute.
(originally published on JDSupra as a video post by Brian P. Gregg of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC)