Brewery Sues Competitor Over Schooner Logos And Use Of The Word 'Head'
from the come-sail-away dept
Another day, another sigh-inducing trademark dispute in the craft beer industry. As we’ve discussed for some time now, the beer industry has a massive problem on its hands in the form of a deluge of trademark disputes between competitors. This has largely been the result of a huge uptick in craft brewers opening new businesses saddled alongside the tradition of creatively naming different beers and the limitations of the English language. Sometimes, however, you get a good old fashioned trademark dispute where one side is simply claiming similarities so tenuous as to be laughable.
Introducing Shipyard Brewing Co., which is suing Logboat Brewing Company claiming that because the latter both uses an image of a schooner on its label for its Shiphead beer brand and because the name of the beer includes the word “head” at all, that its a trademark violation. Let’s deal with each in order, mostly because simply putting the beer labels side by side should allow us to take the schooner portion of the claim off the list of things we’ll take seriously quite easily.
Do both labels use the image of a schooner? Yup! Are those uses, or the labels themselves, even remotely similar? Hell no! Shipyard’s label is a picture of a schooner on the water, whereas Logboat’s label is dominated by an image of a woman with a schooner for a head. You know, “shiphead.” The beer labels themselves aren’t remotely similar so as to rise to the level of trademark infringement.
Which Shipyard likely realizes, which is why they’re lacing this trademark suit with the following claims: its the combination of the label and Logboat’s use of the word “head” and the name it gave its outdoor seating area near the brewery that creates the customer confusion.
Shipyard further owns and has used other trademarks that contain the term HEAD as a suffix in relation to its beers, including, but not limited to, PUMPKINHEAD, MELONHEAD, and APPLEHEAD. Shipyard’s family of SHIPYARD, SHIP, and HEAD marks (collectively “Shipyard’s Trademarks”) all were in use and/or registered prior to Logboat’s earliest priority date of February 20, 2014.
The suit goes on to note that Logboat refers to its outdoor eating area as “the shipyard”, which, yeah, the brewery has a boating theme. But with all of the examples of “ship” and “head” related trademarks owned by Shipyard, what the company chiefly demonstrates is that it does not have a trademark registered for “shiphead.” The owner of that mark is Logboat, actually, which was registered in 2014 at which time no opposition was raised against it by Shipyard or anyone else. Logboat took to social media to explain:
“Logboat’s Shiphead Ginger Wheat trademark was registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following examination by a trademark examiner,” the statement said, “and successfully passed though the public opposition phase. Logboat’s mark was never challenged during the registration process as being likely to cause confusion with the trademark of any other party.”
What Shipyard is trying to do is string two or three tenuous trademark issues together and weave it into a valid trademark lawsuit. It’s very unlikely to work, however, given how dissimilar the logos and marks are.