craft beer

Check out Ross’ Latest Publication on the Craft Beer Industry and Trademark Law – Worry Wort: A Path to Acquiring Trademark Rights in the Craft Brewing Industry

Check out Ross’ latest article, titled: Worry Wort: A Path to Acquiring Trademark Rights in the Craft Brewing Industry. It appears in Volume XXIV, Book 4 of the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal.

http://iplj.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/C04_Appel_R1.pdf

The article discusses the manner in which trademark law functions, focusing upon the statutory definition of “use in commerce” and related case law developments. It examines the legal framework as it applies in the craft beer context and analyzes an illustrative legal dispute and considers the effect in time, money and frustration that trademark disputes can have on small craft brewery owners.  It also analyzes the early life-cycle of two upstart brewers to demonstrate that rights in a mark must accrue, in certain circumstances, prior to any sales activity.  It further examines the manner in which rights in a mark are acquired in the pharmaceutical industry, where the time from development to marketing launch […]

By |July 15th, 2014|Blog, News|0 Comments

Craft Beer: Franchise Laws Need Not Apply

Franchise laws, as applied to the  craft beer industry, have the negative potential of restricting the possibilities for growth (small brewers may avoid expanding into a test market because they will first have to tie themselves to a distributor forever) and allowing distributors to hold breweries to a relationship that is neither healthy nor profitable for either party.

Franchise laws were viewed as a necessity a few decades after Prohibition, when few breweries remained operational. Those that remained were generally doing the uninteresting: mass-producing uniformly flavored beer. However, the efficiency of these breweries came at the expense of flavor and creativity and would put many smaller breweries out of business. This led to a great deal of consolidation in the beer industry and ultimately led to the existence of several large breweries with power to influence the policies of the next tier of the distribution system, the distributors themselves. It was […]

By |June 12th, 2014|Blog|1 Comment

Ross Worked With BeverageTradeNetwork on a Recent Article about Craft Beer Label Design and Requirements

Please click on the following link on BeverageTradeNetwork to read the recent article in which Ross was consulted regarding craft beer label design. The article discusses the process and requirements for label approval, prohibited content on malt beverage labels and why you might consider plans for brewery expansion when designing a label. Let us know if you have any questions or comments!

http://beveragetradenetwork.com/en/article-base/craft-beer-label-design-how-to-adhere-to-state-and-federal-law-and-get-your-labels-approved–351.htm

By |June 9th, 2014|Blog, News|0 Comments

It’s Kind of Their Thing

Anheuser Busch is doing that thing Anheuser Busch does. This time in South Carolina. It’s what they recently did in Florida. Here, they had some politicians that were either willing to do their bidding or were willing to accept vague and unsupported assertions as fact without asking any logical follow-up questions. In South Carolina, they’ve got their lawyer-lobbyists doing the same.

ABInBev’s attorneys wrote a short letter to South Carolina Senators asking that they “please non-concur”  with house amendments to the bill that was drafted to help open up the craft beer industry in South Carolina and perhaps provide incentive to Stone Brewing to bring jobs and money to South Carolina. Read that letter here: (as posted by Wesley Donehue and BeerOfSC) http://www.scribd.com/doc/224630184/Stone-Bill.

The attorneys begin by noting that “the manner in which the law would be changed would be detrimental to the current three tier system for alcohol distribution.” It is […]

By |May 19th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

A Letter to the Senator

I emailed Senator Stargel today after reading her opinion piece that appeared in a number of Florida publications:

Senator Stargel,

I read your opinion piece on SB 1714 this morning and wanted to reach out in response. I certainly appreciate your opinion and the fact that you took the time to attempt to clarify certain information making its way around the media and internet right now. I also appreciate that you have worked hard on this bill and have made efforts to find a compromise. I don’t believe any compromise was ever necessary because I don’t believe there ever should have been any such legislation that would add more regulations to Florida’s beer industry. I would like to go through your piece and reply to your arguments.

 

STARGEL: It’s clear the three-tier system, purposefully instituted after Prohibition, must be preserved to prevent: predatory practices that would eliminate competition, opaque or illicit distribution channels, […]

By |April 29th, 2014|Blog|2 Comments

SB 1714 Update – A Total Farce

UPDATE: I mentioned in the last update that this process should have been much easier given that Florida’s brewers are looking for simple, common sense, measures to be taken. Those would be legalization of the 64 ounce growler and malt beverage tastings conducted by brewers.  Senator Gibson filed a delete all, discussed further below, that would return any debate back to the simplicity necessary and simply allow 64 ounce containers and beer tastings. Senator Thrasher did not want Gibson bringing what was essentially old business (bills stuck in Committee). Her amendment was withdrawn. Simplicity and common sense did not rule the day.

Senator Stargel filed an amendment on Sunday night that would keep unnecessary restrictions but simply ease those restrictions. It would:

  • Allow a brewery to have one vendors license on each brewery premises.
  • Allow sales for off premises consumption in sealed containers over 2,000 kegs so long as it does not top 20% […]
By |April 28th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Trademark Series: The Doctrine of Foreign Equivalents

From time to time, we run into proposed trademarks that are in another language. This generally starts a conversation about the doctrine of foreign equivalents. The doctrine of foreign equivalents requires that foreign words be translated into English to determine if there is a likelihood of consumer confusion with a mark already registered or to determine if the applied-for mark is descriptive or generic. When applicants apply for a mark in a different language, they are expected to provide the translation of the mark or else the examining attorney will seek the relevance of the applied-for mark.

There is often question about when the doctrine is applied.  It’s applied when the “ordinary American purchaser” would “stop and translate” the foreign wording in a mark. That isn’t terribly helpful on its own.  It has been clarified that the “ordinary American purchaser” isn’t the average American, but rather is […]

By |April 18th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Proposed Amendments to SB 1714 (updated)

Proposed Amendments

The Committee Substitute to SB 1714 in on the Rules Committee’s agenda for this Monday, April 21 at 1 p.m.  Updates on  proposed amendments to the bill will be provided here:

Senator Andy Gardiner (Brevard and Orange counties) filed a delete all on Thursday that seemed to seek a compromise on an already unnecessarily proposed restriction. It would do the following:

  • Allow breweries that brew no more than 2,000 kegs (15.5 gallons) per year to sell beer brewed on premises in bottles/cans without going through a distributor.
  • Allow a brewery that holds a quota license (if that quota license was owned on or before March 1, 2014)  to sell, for off-premises consumption, all malt beverages brewed off premises (sold in sealed containers, not growlers). The quota license would not be allowed to be moved. Beer sold under this provision that is […]
By |April 18th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Flawed Logic

A couple more articles were published today regarding the beer legislation in Florida’s Senate. One of the articles is from Michigan. While there are people learning and writing about the ridiculous nature of the legislation in other markets, it still seems that some of those in the Senate still don’t truly understand the relevant context of the legislation.

According to one article, Senator Kelli Stargel, the sponsor of SB 1714, said the craft industry has thrived under the exception originally created to allow Busch Gardens to sell its beer directly to consumers. The thriving craft beer industry means more taxes collected by the State of Florida. More importantly, the exception was created to promote tourism, not to promote only Busch Gardens. The exception never specifies theme parks or theme parks developed by Anheuser-Busch. There is a reason for that. Tourism is good for Florida and its economy whether […]

By |April 15th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Come-To-Rest Exception

Florida likes to collect taxes. They want to ensure they get all of them. That’s not a Florida thing. Every government wants what they perceive to be theirs and every government wants to collect revenues.  Florida ranks in the top 10 in the United States in state excise tax rates on beer.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank: The Florida Senate’s Committee on Regulated Industries (chaired by Senator Kelli Stargel) introduced a bill that would remove one of the very requirements that purportedly exists to control and monitor that tax revenue. That requirement is the come-to-rest requirement (proper record keeping and thus proper tax collection is easier to verify with checks and balances).

On Tuesday, Senator Jack Latvala exposed Kelli Stargel’s lack of any true understanding of SB 1714 and, with time short in the committee meeting, he clearly felt […]

By |April 10th, 2014|Blog|3 Comments