Drunken Monarchy Fight: King Of Beers V. Queen Of Beers In Trademark Tussle
from the long-live-the-queen dept
Normally, when we find two breweries involved in a trademark dispute, as has become common these past few years, the dispute tends to be over the extravagant artwork on the label or the equally extravagant names of specific beers. Is this Zombie-Death Murder-Gasm IPA too close in name to Vampire-Orgy Bloodpool Belgium Wheat? Who can tell?
So it’s somewhat refreshing to see a case that rests on simpler claims, even if they are laughably ridiculous, such as Budweiser’s inability to determine the difference in the sexes between regal nobility titles.
She Beverage Co. of Lancaster, California, applied in December to register “The Queen of Beer” phrase with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Anheuser-Busch filed a notice of opposition Wednesday, arguing that “Queen of Beer” is too similar to “King of Beers” and that consumers might wrongly believe She Beverage beers are made by Anheuser-Busch.
Now it’s been some time since I took sex ed, but even I can tell the difference between a king and a queen, one being male and the other female. Instead, what AB is likely concerned about is that customers will think that the Queen of Beer mark is being used by AB as some kind of counter-marketing. Unfortunately, that worry doesn’t a valid trademark concern make. The test is still about the actual likelihood of customer confusion, and it seems like quite a stretch to suggest that a small California craft brewer is going to be somehow confused for the mega-corporation that pumps out Budweiser.
Interestingly, AB’s opposition filing notes that the USPTO itself has had he/she confusion in the past.
Anheuser-Busch, in its opposition filing, argued that the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board previously ruled in its favor against another company that sought to trademark “Queen of Beers.”
“The Queen of Beer mark is virtually identical to (Anheuser-Busch’s) King of Beers marks with the exception of replacing the word `king’ with the connotatively similar word `queen,”‘ it wrote in its opposition filing.
Right! Other than the key identifier of the mark being the exact opposite, they’re exactly the same. Take the king/queen out of each trademark and we’re left with “the”, “of” and “beers.” The first two words are useless as a trademark and the last word identifies the product type. This claim, therefore, must solely rest on whether using “queen” is going to make She Beverage’s customers think that it’s associated with the “king.” The likelihood of that seems small at best. And, given that AB has admitted its run into this situation in the past, it’s a bit surprising that the company hasn’t even attempted to get a trademark on “the queen of beers” to avoid this very thing in the present.
Rose said she was surprised by the opposition since Anheuser-Busch hasn’t trademarked the “queen” phrase.
“There is no `Queen of Beer,’ and we’re a female-owned company,” she said. She plans to continue to pursue the trademark.
Long live the queen.