Anheuser-Busch Trying To Trademark Area Codes For Local Beers

from the drunk-moron-in-a-hurry? dept

Ryan points us to the news that beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev is apparently in the process of trying to trademark various area codes across the country. A few months back AB bought Goose Island, a craft brewer who made a beer called 312… after the local area code in Chicago. Apparently AB liked the idea so much that it’s seeking trademarks elsewhere, which (one assumes) it will try to use to offer local beers. Of course, with an operation like AB, you wonder if it won’t just package up the same beer for each location…

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Companies: anheuser-busch inbev, goose island

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Comments on “Anheuser-Busch Trying To Trademark Area Codes For Local Beers”

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Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Re: It's more complicated than that

Didn’t Intel discover that you can’t trademark a number?

The use of 286, 386, and 486 as common names for previous generations of CPU architecture meant 586 was already used by the public to describe the original Pentium before it was even designed. Intel trademarked i586 in addition to Pentium, but chose to use the latter for marketing because it would be distinct from similar products like AMD’s (trademarked) AM586.

Naming a beer after a zip code has no such problem. If you describe a beer to someone with a three digit number, they’re not likely to even guess that it’s a reference to where the beer comes from.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: It's more complicated than that

312 was only sold in Chicago(land area) so everyone automatically new what the reference was. It didnt hurt that the tap handle was a telephone and a telephone was on the bottle either.

I imagine this is just a plan to sell the same beer with a different name in different cities. So where ever people drink it it is their area code.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It's more complicated than that

Perhaps, but it’s still different. If you just say the name 312, few people will automatically assume you’re talking about beer, even in the Chicago area. On the other hand, if you said 586 to someone familiar with computers in the early 90s, they would assume you were talking about a microprocessor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's more complicated than that

meh, context.

If if someone just said 312 my mind would think of this beer or the area code and if someone just said 586 i would probably think of processors.

But if someone just walked up and said three numbers to me I imagine my first thought would be that they are crazy.

JMG says:

Re: Re: Re: It's more complicated than that

Only sold in Chicago? Was this for a limited time or something? Used to be able to get it all over Kentucky. Very recognizable because of the telephone as the tap. It was pretty popular here too, but was probably my least favorite of the Goose Island flavors that rotate around here.

HothMonster says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It's more complicated than that

“Only sold in Chicago? Was this for a limited time or something? Used to be able to get it all over Kentucky.”

No that was a year round beer. Sorry for my ignorance I didn’t know Goose Island was distributing elsewhere these days. I know in my college years I never saw it elsewhere in the midwest. These days when I travel I look for beers that arnt available to me not my local go-to. So if its been in other places I guess I just never noticed. But checking the Wiki it looks like they went semi-national in 2006.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

312 Urban Wheat sounds identical to Budweiser: Low alcohol by volume; SRM 20 (aka piss yellow); 2-Row and Torrified wheat, which most homebrewers would just consider a base-malt on which you would build a specialty grain package on top of; and Liberty and Cascade hops (a very mild hop) that probably walked through the beer on stilts.

Congrats AB, you bought your own beer.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

312 Urban Wheat sounds identical to Budweiser:

You mean phoney Budweiser – real Budweiser – as brewed in the Czech Republic – is quite different. (see Of course this is simply history repeating itself – the AB thought the Budweiser name sounded good and so simply used it – then had the cheek to try and stop the original companies using the name.
It looks like they want to try the same trick with the area codes. Of course in Europe there is a tendency to require geographically based names of food products to be genuine so AB would have a hard time doing it over here.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Did you read my post? Its pretty obvious I have not had it. with things like “sounds identical.” Seeming how its over 1000 miles away to go try one.. probably won’t until AB stocks it the next “Bud Light Lime”.

I wouldn’t say its “nothing of substance” Given the ingredients, Color, IBU, and other information provided by Goose Island, The creators of the beer, and experience from brewing beer myself I have a pretty good idea what it would taste like. It would probably be a little more hoppy than Bud / Bud light (from the IBU being 20 vs 5-10). Consider it like an Expert Witness in a court case…. He wasn’t there but still knows a little about what hes talking about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, you are not an “expert witness” 312 is a summer wheat beer. It is more like Blue Moon than Bud. As someone with homebrewing experience, you should know better than to assume that similar ingredients should make something “identical”

I doubt that bud has torrified wheat. I think it does have corn though.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I like Sanders he is one of a few senators fighting for the people, to hell with Leahy…

Magic Hat has always been an interesting company, They have really great ideals, brewing “whatever they want” I want to like their beers, I used to drink #9… but most of their beer’s taste like crap to me. You drink them because you like the concept. Once you start having other local beers like Long Trail, Switchback, Rock Art, etc. Magic Hat loses interest.

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“Trademarking three digit numbers …”
“It’s not exactly outside of the norm.”


“The original Pentium branded CPUs were expected to be named 586 or i586, to follow the naming convention of previous generations (286, i386, i486). However, Intel was unable to persuade the court of law to allow them to trademark numbers (such as “i486″)”

Also of interest – can you trademark a number?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:


Yes, really. That single Pentium example does not make three-digit trademark registrations some extraordinary thing.

Also, while I wouldn’t recommend Snopes for legal advice, that link supports the notion that number trademarks are no big deal: “Yes, you can trademark numbers (just as you can other words and phrases) for specific uses, and Boeing does in fact hold trademarks for model numbers such as 737.”

Vidiot (profile) says:

Turnpike trademarks

Flying Fish, a NJ microbrewery, has a collection of ales named after exits on the NJ Turnpike… Exit 1, near the Delaware Bay, inspires “Exit 1 – Bayshore Oyster Stout”; Exit 9, near Rutgers University’s Scarlet Knights, gets “Exit 9 – Hoppy Scarlet Ale”. And so on. The old joke is, “You’re from Joisy? What exit?”; and this capitalizes on it big-time. So… trademark time for the words “Exit 3”?

MAC says:


Ok AB, so that will be $250.00 US per year to use my er your local area code on my letters…
Wait, letters are no longer valid because everyone uses email!
Rubbish, email can be hacked, mess with a letter and you will face the postal inspectors!
Besides, we really don’t want the art of handwriting to disappear now do we?
I like paper, its nice, does not require electricity, lasts for centuries and cannot be altered without leaving a trail that can be detected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Umm, what?

So, Budweiser Bier B?rgerbr?u is Founded in 1795 by German-speaking citizens of Budweis, which began exporting Budweiser Bier to the United States in 1875, a year before AB started making their own Budweiser in 1876, so yeah, that Czech Republic company totally stole the name Budweiser from AB and not from the the town they started in… before AB did it… yeah… I also have some swamp land in Florida I am trying to sell, you interested?

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