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

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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 Trademark Law Explained (In a Nutshell)

Here’s the skinny on why proactive brewery trademark practices are a must. This is as brief-yet-thorough of an overview on brewery trademark law (and why it’s important) as I can muster. The takeaway is the same: (1) clear early and often; (2) file immediately; (3) regularly monitor. Here goes:

Brewery Trademark Law Explained

Proactive brewery trademark law practices are essential in today's increasingly crowded marketplace.
Proactive brewery trademark law practices are essential in today’s increasingly crowded alcoholic beverage marketplace.

Federal trademarks are a first-to-file game and they give nationwide rights. If brewery #1 sells branded beer without a registration, brewery #2 (or winery, distillery, meadery…you get it) can register the same or similar name at any time, even if brewery #2 picked the name solely because they saw brewery #1 using it and liked it. Very technically, brewery #2 would take those trademark rights subject to the trading territory brewery #1 had established on the date brewery #2 filed. Realistically, it costs a lot for brewery #1 to enforce even that limited territory it would have priority to—and brewery #1 could never expand beyond that limited territory without risking a cease and desist / litigation / name change, so those so-called priority rights become less attractive. Looking at it another way, even if no one officially registers brewery #1’s beer or brewery name, other breweries would be free to adopt that unregistered name and establish similar limited rights in their respective territories, with no issues unless those territories cross. Brewery #1 couldn’t do anything about that.

Oftentimes the quiet name changes we see aren’t because a brewery failed to be first to market, but first to the register, so brewery #1 changes the name because they’re no longer interested in a brand name if it means they can only sell under the brand in one state, or one pocket of one state.

The takeaway is that, today, if a brewery cares about rights to a beer name, brewery name, series name, what-have-you, best practice is to:

  1. Proactively seek a trademark clearance report for each and every beer or brand name (and, of course, the overarching brewery name) the brewery plans to launch. We run these daily at a low flat fee.
  2. If the results are clear, file immediately. A brewery need not be using the mark to file.
  3. Regularly monitor to make sure no one is using the same or similar mark.

That’s that—brewery trademark law in a nutshell.

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