The proliferation of breweries and the pressure for them to continuously turn out new styles of beers has created a trademark minefield for names. “Once you come up with an idea, then there’s just this fear that someone else beat you to it,” [Patrick] Mullane says. “Beer names are completely off the wall because there’s just so many of them out there.”
Most breweries will head to sites like ratebeer.com, beeradvocate.com, or Google to get an idea of whether something is already taken. Port City Brewing Company always goes the step further of having its lawyer look into potential names—although not every brewery does this. “You really have to have a more in-depth search that’s done by a professional, someone who knows what they’re doing as far as these trademark searches go,” founder Bill Butcher says. “It’s not something a layman can do an effective job at.”
In 1985, only 188 beer trademark applications were filed in the U.S. Last year, there were more than 4,600. And this year, the number is on track to surpass that, says beer attorney Dan Christopherson, who works for Lehrman Beverage Law in D.C. and specializes in trademarks. (Yes, beer trademarks are enough of an issue that there’s a lawyer who specializes in them.) Christopherson works with about 15 breweries in the D.C. area in addition others around the country.
“It comes up quite a bit,” Christopherson says of brewery trademark disputes. “It certainly makes the headlines a lot more frequently now, but I anticipate that there’s a lot of them, just from my own experience, that get handled behind closed doors.”
The full article is here. Dan is well on his way to being a leading authority on beverage trademarks in general and beer trademarks in particular.