Florida

The Geographically Descriptive Trademark

I was recently in Boston and had some great beer. Something I saw on that trip and then a discussion I had with David Minsky of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times inspired this article. David and I spoke about the recent trend of cease-and-desist letters in the brewing industry and whether it may soon affect South Florida’s breweries that are seeking to trademark names like Miami Pale Ale and Miami Brewing Company. As I drove through a few towns north of Boston, I passed Boston Beer Works and thought people might assume that Boston Beer Company, the company behind Sam Adams and Angry Orchard, was also behind Boston Beer Works. Boston Beer didn’t want people thinking that was the case. It sued Boston Beer Works twenty years ago for trademark infringement. I’ll get to that. First, some background on the relevant law.

Trademarks may fall within four categories with respect […]

By |January 3rd, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

Year in Beer(law)

A look back at some of the craft beer industry’s legal issues (w/ pictures) in 2013 (click on the links below for more coverage):

The people behind Headwaters Brewing came up with the Headwaters name in 2009 and went public with the name in 2010 at the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce business start-up competition. In January 2012, before Headwaters turned pro,Victory Brewing Company released its Headwaters Pale Ale. But Victory also filed a federal trademark application. Shortly after opening, Headwaters received a cease-and-desist letter from Victory. Headwaters remarked that it was a “great lesson in intellectual property protection for do-it-yourself and small business guys” and changed the brewery’s name to BearWaters.

In March, DuClaw Brewing of Maryland sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ska Brewing after registering the EUPHORIA mark for beer. However, Ska claimed use of Euphoria for its pale ale back to 2005 while DuClaw’s application claimed use […]

By |January 3rd, 2014|Blog|10 Comments

Could Craft Brewers Take a Page from the NBA Lockout?

craft-beer-week-new-york-city-photo-ccDuring the recent NBA lockout, a number of the league’s stars found ways to stay at work by participating in charity games across the country and other summer league events.  Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony played in Oklahoma City and raised $100,000 for the Single Parents Support Network of Oklahoma City.  Durant, James, Anthony, Paul, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, John Wall and Amar’e Stoudemire got together in Miami to support Mary’s Court Foundation.  More stars met in Philadelphia, Minneapolis and San Jose, among other locations.

The situations are certainly different, craft brewers are not directly at odds with the federal government and the shutdown did not occur as a means of burdening the brewers.  But the result is similar.  Many craft brewers are left with innovative brews that cannot reach the consumers due to the cessation […]

By |October 16th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

Label Approval – For the States, Federal Government or Both?

Earlier this year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) clarified that neither a certificate of label approval (COLA) or a certificate of exemption is required for malt beverages that will not be shipped or delivered for sale or shipment into another state.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you plan to distribute your product only within your home state that you are automatically exempt.  Many states still rely on, and default to, the federal regulations and require TTB label approval.  Nor does it mean that it’s not best to seek label approval if you are in a state that does not require it.  This can however, play a role in the timing of when you may seek label approval.  For example, if you want to get a product on tap in your state quickly without waiting for label approval but you also want to check your […]

By |September 24th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

How Much Beer is Too Much? Florida Law says 64 Ounces is Too Much. 128 Ounces is Not?

craft-beer-week-new-york-city-photo-ccWhile small breweries around the country were providing consumers with new tastes and quality beer, Florida lagged behind.  Just as Florida lagged behind in the craft brew craze, Florida’s laws lag behind the rest of the country as Florida’s craft beer industry is burgeoning.  Specifically, Florida’s craft breweries can fill its consumers’ 32 ounce (1 quart) and 128 ounce (1 gallon) growlers ((A growler is a refillable container or jug into which tap beer is poured for home consumption.)), but any sizes in between are illegal.  That includes, of course, the 64 ounce growler, which also happens to be the industry’s standard size. ((The 64 ounce growler is also illegal in Utah.))

During Florida’s recently completed legislative session, a bill was introduced that would have legalized the 64 ounce growler.  The bill died in the Business & Professional Regulation Subcommittee.  Why?  (Lobbyists/Special Interests). […]

By |July 10th, 2013|Blog|Comments Off on How Much Beer is Too Much? Florida Law says 64 Ounces is Too Much. 128 Ounces is Not?