Music, movies, TV, sports, art. These are all things that have influence over our everyday lives. You may have a phrase that has become a part of your common vocabulary that was a line you picked up from a movie. Your love three piece suits may have come from some swank character in a TV show. Your guitar playing style was forged from the off time, chaos from a tech metal band that blew your mind. It’s safe to say that we all do something that was influenced by media at some point.
Beer is no different and I don’t just mean the liquid, in the keg, can, bottle or glass. Names of the beers along with artwork for labels, posters, glassware and other merchandise offer multiple canvases for breweries to paint their tribute to the influencing medium. And with a number of breweries that continues to grow and market that is still tip toeing along the edge of saturation coming up with names that are catchy can become a full-time job in and of itself. When you couple this tight rope walking job of determining names and branding along with outside influences you may very well find yourself heading down a path that is maybe even more slippery than the floors in your brewery.
You would think in this industry where it seems like common practice now to hear about breweries going after other breweries over names, branding and the like that intellectual property would be a 101 course for coming into the field. Simple Google searches for beers with similar names is the easiest step but putting forth just a tad more effort like searching BeerAdvocate, Untappd and even the US Patent and Trademark Office can be classified as due diligence for most breweries. Infringing on another brewery’s trademark is not fun and not only can it result in having to go back to the drawing board on a name but lost revenue from having to pull product and merch that may bear the infringing name. So check all those things and your good right? Well not so much.