MWB Attorney Rebecca Crandall contributes article “Don’t Brew Up Trouble in Beer Name Selection” for NC Bar Blog.
Read an excerpt here and the full article at the link.
Most attorneys advising new breweries remember to ensure no other brewery exists with the same name the client has selected. The work relating to that brewery’s trademarks does not, however, end upon successful naming of the brewery itself. Unless a brewery sticks to generic names for its beers (e.g., IPA, pale ale), it may run into trouble in days or years from opening unless the same analysis is conducted for each individual beer name.
In selecting a mark, the brewery should keep in mind the spectrum of distinctiveness. Certain types of marks are distinctive, and thus potentially protectable, from the outset: fanciful marks (e.g., Swannanopolis), arbitrary marks (e.g., Ninja), and suggestive marks (e.g., Sweet English). Descriptive marks (e.g., Tangerine Wheat) may acquire distinctiveness following a period of exclusive use, during which time consumers learn that the descriptive mark is associated with a specific source. Selecting a descriptive mark carries with it the risk that another may select the same mark before the mark has acquired distinctiveness, in which case the mark may not ultimately be protectable…..Full Article Here.