The Trademark Board Cancels the Trademark Registration for HOPNOTIC Beer

by Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.
Contact

In another disappointment to the beer brewing industry, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled a trademark registration for the mark HOPNOTIC for beer on the basis that it is confusingly similar to liquor brand HPNOTIQ.  Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. — which owns the HPNOTIQ mark and boasts several trademark registrations for HPNOTIQ, including registrations for alcoholic beverages, liquor and other goods — brought an action to cancel the HOPNOTIC mark owned by Cricket Hill Brewing Company, Inc., of New Jersey.

Even though Cricket Hill has sold HOPNOTIC since 2004, the Board found that Heaven Hill had priority because its application for HPNOTIQ was filed earlier, in 2002, so Heaven Hill was able to rely on this date as its first use.

In evaluating the likelihood of confusion, the Board recognized that Cricket Hill’s goods are “beer,” which Cricket Hill described as a specialized craft beer known as India Pale Ale; and Heaven Hill’s goods are “liquor.” However, the test is not whether consumers will be likely to confuse the goods themselves, but whether they will be likely to confuse the source of the goods.  It is not necessary that the goods be identical or even competitive; rather, it is sufficient that the goods are related in some way, or that they are marketed in such a way as to be encountered by the same consumers under circumstances that would give rise to the mistaken belief that they originate from the same source.  Beer has been found to be sufficiently related to distilled spirits, despite the differences in production methods, distribution, and marketing.

In assessing the similarity of the two marks themselves, the Board noted that they are nearly identical, despite the fact that Cricket Hill’s mark begins with “HOP,” referring to “hops” and the distinctive taste associated with “hoppy” beer.  It concluded that consumers were not likely to view the products as originating from separate sources, but rather will view HOPNOTIC as a variation of the HPNOTIQ mark.  The Board added that, in a loud atmosphere such as a bar, a waiter may not be able to distinguish the two marks, which are very similar in pronunciation.  Accordingly, the Board found that the HOPNOTIC mark was likely to cause confusion with the HPNOTIQ mark, and cancelled the registration.  Do you agree with this result? 

As previously reported, several recent rejections by the Board have highlighted the difficulty craft brewers and the industry in general are facing with branding and labeling new products.  The rise in the number of craft breweries in recent years has resulted in a surge of disputes over creative trade names.  Are we running out of catchy creative names for craft brews?  This is a reminder that careful review of existing trademarks (whether or not registred), including not only names of beers but also names of wine and liquor products, is necessary before committing to a name.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A.
Contact
more
less

Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.