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

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

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  1. evilcatfish

    evilcatfish Defender (617) May 11, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    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. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    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 Meyvn (1,453) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Supporter Subscriber

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

    evilcatfish Defender (617) May 11, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    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. markdrinksbeer

    markdrinksbeer Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2013 Massachusetts

    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. Casterbridge

    Casterbridge Disciple (369) Mar 26, 2010 Connecticut

    I hereby trademark the term RICE BEER.
  7. deadonhisfeet

    deadonhisfeet Meyvn (1,460) Apr 23, 2011 Kentucky

    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. Casterbridge

    Casterbridge Disciple (369) Mar 26, 2010 Connecticut

    Can't we settle this like civilized people over a rice beer?
    deadonhisfeet, Roguer and thufflife like this.
  9. PaulyB83

    PaulyB83 Crusader (781) Sep 1, 2013 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    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. WillieThreebiers

    WillieThreebiers Poo-Bah (2,591) Apr 26, 2012 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    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. RichardMNixon

    RichardMNixon Zealot (515) Jun 24, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    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 Zealot (536) Sep 30, 2005 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    cant we all just get along.
  13. thechadwix

    thechadwix Initiate (0) Aug 21, 2014 Georgia

    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 Aspirant (217) Oct 12, 2009 Michigan
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Unfortunately no, because AB is mad because Short's ate into their marketshare in Michigan.
    adamant1912 and JasonR1975 like this.
  15. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,449) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    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 Crusader (751) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    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.


    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 Meyvn (1,449) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    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 :grinning:
    tommyz, tkdchampxi and mikeburd1128 like this.
  18. nickfl

    nickfl Poo-Bah (3,428) Mar 7, 2006 Florida
    Beer Trader

    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 Initiate (136) Sep 10, 2013 Texas

    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 Initiate (0) May 6, 2013 Michigan

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

    dctriman Aspirant (280) May 18, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    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 Defender (617) May 11, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

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

    larryarms847 Poo-Bah (1,745) Dec 12, 2010 Illinois
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    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. tkdchampxi

    tkdchampxi Meyvn (1,041) Oct 19, 2010 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    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. EyePeeAyBryan

    EyePeeAyBryan Champion (800) Dec 20, 2011 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    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 Defender (617) May 11, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

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

    rgordon Defender (683) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    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 Initiate (0) Jan 4, 2009 Kentucky

    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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