I think Andy Crouch said it best, so let’s start there:
The craft beer industry would be a better place if everyone (consumers included) just took a 20 minute Trademarks 101 course.
— Andy Crouch (@BeerScribe) September 3, 2013
Thanks Andy, I agree.
A couple things brewers (especially distributing brewers) should check out before making a new beer:
1) Google. Google the name of the beer you want to make. If it already exists, then it’s taken… move along. I’m working on a title for my book right now. Guess what – I googled the one I want to make sure nobody else has it already.
2) BeerAdvocate.com. Do a search, if it’s not there, it probably doesn’t exist. Since it’s your business and all it might be worth it to check out Ratebeer.com as well.
Once you’ve got your name – trademark it. Get label approval. Those steps go a long way toward making sure you’re able to protect your intellectual property further down the road. And if somebody else comes up with a beer that you think infringes on your intellectual property, give them a call first. Write them an email. It’s cheaper than paying a lawyer to send over a Cease & Desist letter. Trust me… they’ll send over something they’ve sent out a hundred times with a few specific variations and then charge you for a half-hour’s worth of work… which is a lot.
And if you find yourself being (unfairly) targeted – fight it. Or don’t. It’s your money. But do any of you remember this beer?
Of course you do. It was delicious. So is this one.
Your drinkers aren’t as stupid as you think we are. Let us know the name is changing, and we’ll be like “OK,” and move on with all of our lives. Or, if you’re a badass like Paul Kavulak at Nebraska Brewing Company, then you point out that your product is vastly superior and that it might be beneficial for that other product to be confused with yours.
So what’s my point? Brewers need to recognize that they’re part of a BUSINESS community. Business owners have rights to property, and they have rights to defend that property. As DMX would say, “You play with my life when you play with my money,” and it’s not cool to play with somebody’s life.
And lastly, people like me (beer writers) should stop making a big deal about it. So what if Brewery Vivant and Tired Hands don’t hold hands and skip down the sidewalk on the way to yet another collaboration brewing session. It’s not the end of craft beer, nor does it mean that craft beer is headed toward an inevitable big-business attitude that makes big beer so unappealing. It just means that life is real, and it’s not always rosy. But if handled correctly, it doesn’t have to smell like manure either.
- Brewery Vivant – Stop Being so Whiny (therowhousebrewer.wordpress.com)