A couple of weeks ago, two Oregon breweries ended at least their portion of a multibrewery dispute over the word “Apocalypse” and beer. We would say resolved, but that word seems to have a happy connotation. Happy, this was not. What was once “Apocalypse Brewing Company” in Medford, Oregon is now “Opposition Brewing Company” (and, yes, the new name was inspired by the passion-fueled litigation).
You’ll find here a frustrated blog post from the owner of the brewery-formerly-known-as Apocalypse, which is worth a read. And, there’s some good reporting on this matter over at beerpulse, so go check that out.
But, here’s what we wanted to point out. As of right now, there doesn’t appear to be a federal registration filed for the “Opposition Brewing Company” name. Huh?
Maybe Opposition felt pretty beaten down by the legal system, so much that they just don’t have the fight to deal with it. Or, maybe the USPTO has a temporary reporting lag, so their timely filed registration isn’t showing…then again, we filed stuff a couple of days ago, and it’s already up.
Here’s the rub. Absent Opposition’s filing, anyone in the United States (or out of it) could be completing their federal registration, this very moment, for rights to use “Opposition” on beer, wine, whiskey, fizzy soda, whatever. It doesn’t even matter if they picked Opposition just because they heard of this dispute and thought the name was cool. In fact, even if someone never registers but starts using the name, it’s still important. The bottom line? Every second that ticks by without a filing increases your risk of a future trademark dispute.
If you’re a brewery out there that’s been stung before, don’t forget about the beehive—register!