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Anheuser-Busch Opposes Short's "CHOCOLATE WHEAT" trademark

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by evilcatfish, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (505) Missouri May 11, 2012

    http://www.dcbrewlaw.com/?p=831

    Kind of a cool read though it sounds like the author is against AB/Inbev. Not sure how I feel about these trademarks regarding what I consider more of a style description. Could somebody try to have the trademark on "chocolate stout" or "india pale lager?" Hell, who made the first saison? Could they claim rights to the term? Trademark law is not something I know much about but I do find it to be an interesting topic.
     
    TheDoctor, thufflife and jRocco2021 like this.
  2. I'm guessing chocolate wheat is not a recognized style, therefore it is more or less a "name"?.

    Perhaps Shorts can call their beer something else and then put in a description "a chocolate wheat ale"?
     
  3. pweis909

    pweis909 Advocate (715) Wisconsin Aug 13, 2005

    Chocolate wheat, vanilla porter, coffee stout, trademark 'em all!
     
    evilcatfish likes this.
  4. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (505) Missouri May 11, 2012

    I know what you mean about not being a recognized style, but neither is say, vanilla porter. There are over 175 beers listed on BA when searching the terms "vanilla" and "porter." Could somebody claim to have had the original and force all the others to change names? Like I said, this isn't a subject I know a ton about. I'd be interested to hear from some of our resident BA attorneys (or armchair attorneys)

    Oh, and seraching "chocolate wheat" brings up 11 listings...
     
    nickfl and WesMantooth like this.
  5. YEah, I was just throwing out a possible reason until someone smarter than me can chime in with a much more accurate assumption/reason for this.

    I personally think it is ridiculous.
     
  6. I hereby trademark the term RICE BEER.
     
  7. I hereby oppose your trademark of the term "rice beer".

    You know, this all reminds me of that line from the movie "Other People's Money"...

    "Lawyers are like nuclear weapons. They've got theirs, I've got mine, and once you use them they f**k everything up."
     
    Roguer, thechadwix and 5thOhio like this.
  8. Can't we settle this like civilized people over a rice beer?
     
    deadonhisfeet, Roguer and thufflife like this.
  9. PaulyB83

    PaulyB83 Advocate (525) Michigan Sep 1, 2013

    No joke, when I first had this beer I thought, "That's kind of a generic name, that could be trouble."
     
    Ranbot likes this.
  10. Not that I know anything about trademark law, but isn't the issue trademarking and not usage? Anyone can have a "chocolate wheat" beer; they just cannot trademark the description. Yet, if Short's is trademarking "Short's Brew Chocolate Wheat Porter" that seems perfectly reasonable.
     
  11. I think not because the trademark has now been "diluted" or something to that effect. That's the reason given for why some breweries fight so hard over trademarks - if they let it slide for a while, they won't be able to get it back when they want it.

    By that token though, I imagine this will be problematic for AB-InBev err... Short's, since they're they ones pursuing the trademark.
     
  12. thufflife

    thufflife Advocate (550) Missouri Sep 30, 2005

    cant we all just get along.
     
  13. thechadwix

    thechadwix Zealot (80) Georgia Aug 21, 2014

    Once rice beer gets trademarked, you'll have to capitalize the name or risk "genericide", which I believe is Latin for "watch out, the lawyer got a creative urge."
     
  14. craigo19

    craigo19 Savant (270) Michigan Oct 12, 2009

    Unfortunately no, because AB is mad because Short's ate into their marketshare in Michigan.
     
    adamant1912 and I_BYE_MI_BEER like this.
  15. Pahn

    Pahn Advocate (695) New York Dec 2, 2009

    don't understand why either of them would need to own the mark "chocolate wheat." i get doing things for the principle of it, but call me when short's can't keep the lights on because their flagship "chocolate wheat" has stopped flying off the shelves due to brand confusion or having its name changed...
     
    mikeburd1128 and GeezLynn like this.
  16. MNAle

    MNAle Savant (335) Minnesota Sep 6, 2011

    Let me see if I understand the sense of this board....

    AB cannot dispute the trademark application for Natty Green because their "Natty Light" trademark is generic.

    AND

    Short's should be granted the trademark for "Chocolate Wheat" over AB's objection even though it is generic.


    OK. Seems consistent to me... AB is bad and whatever they do should be opposed! Got it.
     
  17. Pahn

    Pahn Advocate (695) New York Dec 2, 2009

    i like how you call a couple posters "this board" and ignore the majority level-headed and/or diverse opinions. at least you have something to make you feel smart :D
     
    tommyz, tkdchampxi and mikeburd1128 like this.
  18. nickfl

    nickfl Advocate (745) Florida Mar 7, 2006

    Hate to say it but AB is the good guy this time. No brewery should get away with trademarking descriptive terms. Chocolate wheat is a name used for a type of dark wheat malt, if this were trade marked other brewery's wouldn't be able to even mention this ingredient. It's like trying to trademark hoppy IPA or something... Like nitro. It's not right even if it's a small brewery we all like trying to do it.
     
  19. 071184

    071184 Aficionado (105) Texas Sep 10, 2013

    Agreed. Trademarking a style should be opposed- even if it is a "new" style. It's not the first time a brewery has made a chocolate wheat beer, and general terminology, including nitro, should be open to the public to utilize.
     
    AdmiralOzone, tkdchampxi and nickfl like this.
  20. Morakaton

    Morakaton Savant (330) Michigan May 6, 2013

    By golly, those damned dirty apes at Anchor better be prepared for some lawsuits for trademarking steam beer!
     
  21. dctriman

    dctriman Aficionado (240) Virginia May 18, 2012

    The articles says, "While I’d like to side with the well-regarded craft brewer that hails from my home state, I tend to agree with A-B."
     
  22. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (505) Missouri May 11, 2012

    I know but he still sounds like he has something against them
     
  23. larryarms847

    larryarms847 Savant (380) Illinois Dec 12, 2010

    Yet another reason to avoid A-B and all of the "craft" breweries they own. Thank you for giving me that sour taste in my mouth to completely abstain from ever purchasing any of your products again. Not to say I don't already, AB, gross.
     
  24. So I am a lawyer. Unfortunately, I'm not a trademark attorney, so my understanding in this field is limited at best.

    Still, I think AB is right on this one. Chocolate Wheat would seem to be a generic term - no different than vanilla porter, as others have said, or hoppy wheat or nitro stout or anything else along those lines.
     
  25. Also w/ AB on this one; seems wrong to TM descriptive words put together to make a beer name. Can't TM "hoppy ale," or something like "roasted stout."
     
  26. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Advocate (505) Missouri May 11, 2012

    Really hope this is sarcasm
     
    larryarms847 likes this.
  27. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (370) North Carolina Apr 26, 2012

    A-B retains good lawyers to protect them from any and everything. People just resent "big" power versus a "little" marketer. Generally speaking, the smaller brewers don't vet nomenclature as thoroughly as A-B lawyers. Sometimes power speaks to truth.
     
  28. Buschyfor3

    Buschyfor3 Savant (385) Kentucky Jan 4, 2009

    I don't practice in the trademark field (tax attorney) but my understanding of trademark litigation is that it generally involves granting - or not granting - trademark protection depending on the strength of the mark itself, with the strongest trademarks being the most distinctive and thus being the easiest to protect. An example would be the Disney script "D" logo - when people look at that they recognize it as Disney and recognize it only as Disney - that is, the mark has no other meaning that could be construed.

    On the other hand, what we have in this Shorts/AB-InBev case is the attempted use of dictionary terms to make the association to the product. Most courts refer to this as a "Descriptive Mark" and only grant protection where the mark itself has a distinctive "secondary meaning" such that when people see/hear the trademark, they immediately connect it with some distinctive aspect of product. Obviously, a much harder standard to satisfy for the party seeking protection.

    "Chocolate wheat" is a descriptive mark, but there is nothing inherently distinctive in that two-word phrase that would cause someone to automatically link that trademark to Short's beer anymore than any other beer that features chocolate and wheat prominently in the name or in the ingredients. If they went along the lines of trying to trademark the name "Bellaire Chocolate Wheat" or "Michigan Chocolate Wheat" (something that would create a distinctive secondary meaning of this beer being a product of Bellaire, MI where Short's brewery is located) then I think they have a better case for obtaining trademark protection. But as things stand, I think AB-InBev has them dead-to-rights. Just my .02.
     
    AdmiralOzone likes this.

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