Bigger and Better: The Reiser Legal Team Joins Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP

doug

We are ready to announce that our team of counsel will be joining forces with the firm of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP (MNG&D). Our alliance provides the clients of Reiser Legal with affordable access to the Northwest’s most fully-equipped beverage law practice. 

This combination of resources ensures that our clients don’t have to go out-of-house to seek additional legal services. This means that you will now have access to first-rate assistance in many additional areas, including securities regulation, employment relations, tax, real estate financing and leasing, import/export, and the full range of federal and state litigation.

As craft-oriented legal counsel, we have developed close relationships with each of our clients. The Reiser Legal team talked with many firms in an effort to find the best marriage of craft beverage ideals and high-quality legal services. We found those traits in Paul Havel, head of the craft beverage law division at MNG&D – and we can’t wait to introduce Paul and his team of experienced beverage attorneys. 

If you are interested in working with our team, please email us or call us at 503.205.2596. We hope you are as excited as we about this new alliance!

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Brewery Startup Series #8: Timeline to Opening

Going from vision to lights on and taps open can't be done overnight, but this brewery startup timeline gives you a good estimate of the timeline from idea to frothy fruition. (Pictured? That's Burial Beer Co., the vision of Doug Reiser of Reiser Legal, a craft brewery located over in Asheville, NC. Stop by and say hi to Doug sometime.)
Going from vision to lights on and taps open can’t be done overnight, but this brewery startup timeline gives you a good estimate of the timeline from idea to frothy fruition. (Pictured? That’s Burial Beer Co., the vision of Doug Reiser of Reiser Legal, a craft brewery located over in Asheville, NC. Stop by and say hi to Doug sometime.)

How long does it take to open a brewery? I’ve put together resources as a part of our Brewery Startup Series in the past. I thought it was time to revisit the milestones we’ve provided, putting the brewery startup process into a helpful timeline for those thinking about getting started. This is a sketch of what it looks like for most emerging alcoholic beverage businesses, getting at how long it takes to open a brewery:

8+ months out:
-Business Planning: Put together a business plan, consider whether investors are needed. If so, you may need to add to the timeline, to compliantly raise funds and bring those investors onboard.

7-8 months out:
-Business Setup: Form your entity, obtain an Employer Identification Number, Open a Business Bank Account, Fund the Account. This comes first.
-Get an Operating Agreement together that guides decision making, transfers of interests, and sets forth the business and management structure.
-Take steps to clear your brewery name.
-As soon as the entity comes together, file for protection for your selected and cleared brewery name. (Can do this up to 3 years or so before you open, but best to wait until the entity is in place.)

5-6 months out:
-Begin seeking out space, negotiate a lease.
-Once a lease is in place, kick off federal licensing as much as is possible.
-Order equipment.

1-2 months out:
-Tee up the state licensing process as much as possible so that when federal comes in, you’ll be ready to submit.
-Obtain federal approval and submit to state.
-Submit label approvals to TTB or the state, if required.
-Clear and protect all important brand material, such as the brewery logo and flagship beer names.

There are many sub-steps of course, and the scope of the project and commitments of the founders may affect the timeline a good bit, but those are the big milestones. If you have a good idea of your team, a handle on brewing, and a vision of what you want to do, this is a realistic look at how it works for many brewery startups. We’re here to help for those who have questions or are looking to fill in the gaps.

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TTB Permits Online Makeover + Mac Compatibility!

Well, wouldn’t you know it. Just after I found a working solution to using TTB Permits Online and my Mac and wrote about it here, TTB gives Permits Online an unexpected but very welcome update. In a post yesterday, September 2, 2015, TTB announced Permits Online 4.2. Here are the highlights:

1. Permits Online is truly Mac compatible. Finally! As a part of that, you can now upload documents with ease—and without installing Microsoft Silverlight. This is the biggest one for me.

Here are the browser versions it works with on Macs and PCs alike (it may not look perfect in browsers other than Explorer for a little while, but Permits Online is fully functional, they’re just working out cosmetic kinks):

  • Apple Safari 6.0 or higher
  • Google Chrome 42.0 or higher
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 or higher
  • Mozilla Firefox 39.0 or higher

2. TTB Permits Online 4.2 has also pulled the +4 zip code (four zip) requirement for addresses, so you only need to enter in the first five digits (the ones we all use anyway). This will save a bit of time and source of delay for new permittees.

3. There’s an Auto-fill button for addresses (but I’d suggest using it with caution—make sure the premises address is the one you want!).

All in all, I’m really glad to see this update take place. Nice improvements no matter what kind of machine you use, but all of us diehard Mac users have the most to be happy about!

TTB Introduces Permits Online 4.2 with...wait for it...Mac compatibility! I've been hoping something like this was in the works.
TTB Introduces Permits Online 4.2 with…wait for it…Mac compatibility! I’ve been hoping something like this was in the works.

 

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Avoiding a Brewery Trademark Dispute: Here’s How.

You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. This latest trademark dispute highlights again why proactive trademark clearance practices are a must.
You know what they say about an ounce of prevention. This latest brewery trademark dispute highlights again why proactive trademark clearance practices are a must.

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.

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The 2015 Beer Tax Bills: Insight and Coverage

Will we see brewery tax reform in 2015? I hope so, no matter which bill ends up making it through the gauntlet.
Will we see brewery tax reform in 2015? I hope so, no matter which bill ends up making it through the gauntlet.

I want to point you to excellent reporting by Chris Drosner (aka the Beer Baron) over at the Wisconsin State Journal on the potential impact of the two competing beer tax bills. Check out his article here. We covered the Beer Institute’s Fair BEER Act and the Brewers Association’s Small BREW Act last week here, and through insightful discussion with Chris, edited it to correct and improve our coverage. Good stuff, and glad the Brewery Law Blog can help create a dialogue on these important topics, which is what Doug envisioned when launching five years ago. Most importantly for this story, Chris helps tell the part that keeps getting lost in other coverage; the Fair BEER Act is not just beneficial for “big beer.” Of course, that act would cause the biggest cuts to the federal revenue, but may also position the majority of today’s brewers for the most explosive growth. Check out Chris’s article for more details on that. What do you think?

Note: I should disclose, I’m a member of the Brewers Association. However, as a member and given my position as a small-brewery lawyer, I’m interested in what’s best for craft breweries but also the beer industry at large. At times, the line drawing between “us” and “them” and “our growth” vs. “their growth” can seem less important, and this tax scenario might be a case where everyone could come together and agree that more jobs and growth in the entire beer industry is a good thing. After all, consumers still seem to be cheering for the little guys, even when they’re not so little anymore. I doubt that tax cuts and attendant growth across the board will dupe craft consumers and change their David-leaning preferences. Even if big beer exposes more would-be craft beer lovers to the product through their efforts to become more relevant, I think that, just like all of us did, we’d eventually still see those consumers start coming out to their local taprooms, plugging into the truly craft beer scene, and evangelizing the awesome awesome stuff microbreweries are making today. That excites me more than line drawing on these tax issues here. Either way, passage of some measure of brewery tax reform would be a wonderful thing, and a huge accomplishment for the industry.

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