The latest brewery trademark dispute has the same notes, just a different rhythm. This time the matter involves Austin, Texas-based brewery Oasis and the much larger New Belgium. I spoke with Ronnie Crocker at the Houston Chronicle, who wrote this insightful article covering the latest dispute. As I noted to Ronnie in the article, and I note here quite frequently, these matters are largely preventable. Here’s how.
If there is any brand material you would be upset to change, conduct a full clearance search and file an intent-to-use trademark application before you adopt the mark. Don’t wait. Indeed, as this matter highlights, a mark you might think is clear can become fraught with problems in just a couple of weeks. Your filing date is the basis for your federal rights. Without a federal priority date, you might wind up locked out of using that brand name anywhere but your hometown. There’s no reason for that, especially if the brand in question is your brewery’s name or main logo.
Today, if you’re investing in a brand, especially if you’re getting packaged branded material to the shelves and have any aim to expand, file. Clear today, file today. File. The up-front investment is minimal compared to the costs to your brand and to your budget if you bump into issues with another beverage company. Put a little more into your start-up budget. Make proactive brand protection a part of your ongoing recipe-production and beer-release strategy.
I don’t know anyone who has regretted having the registration.
— Ronnie Crocker (@rcrocker) March 3, 2015