Schlafly Beer Trademark App Brings Out All The Egomaniacal Schlaflys In Existence

from the go-schlaf$#@-yourselves dept

I don't get it, but the never ending list of trademark disputes centered around alcohol just continues to grow. Previously we've seen universities going after small brewers over common sports terms, disputes over completely dissimilar lables, and depictions of zombie trademark lawyers doing what zombie trademark lawyers do: kill the living. But this one is a whole new level of egotistical crazy.

For a couple of decades, the St. Louis Brewery Co., co-founded by Tom Schlafly, has been selling Schlafly beer. Phyllis Schlafly, Tom's Aunt, is a special kind of "conservative commentator" and has spent a couple of decades proudly setting back the women's rights movement, railing against marriage equality, and insisting that this whole "being Latino" thing in America is just a fad and Republicans need pay no mind. Now the family is entering into a trademark battle in which Phyllis doesn't think Tom should be able to trademark his beer because, essentially, she's totally a big deal. Seriously, that's what her claim amounts to.

The Schlafly beer maker applied for the trademark on the use of the brand name in 2011; Phyllis Schlafly filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in September 2012. Settlement talks have failed to produce a resolution, and neither side appears ready to back down...Phyllis Schlafly, who declined to be interviewed for this story, argues that the word Schlafly has no usage or meaning other than as a last name, and she lays claim to it.
“In connection with its usage as a surname, it has the connotation of conservative values, which to millions of Americans (such as Baptists and Mormons) means abstinence from alcohol,” her filing with the trademark office states. “An average consumer in Saint Louis and elsewhere would think ‘Schlafly’ is a surname associated with me, and thus the registration of this name as a trademark by Applicant should be denied.”
Got that? Phyllis Schlafly is well known, therefore everyone's going to look at a beer with her last name on it and immediately think of this smiling face.

See the absence of eyeballs? It's because she doesn't have a soul.
Now if it seems pretty ridiculous that a brewery that's been selling a beer under the name of one of its founders for over two decades suddenly has to face a trademark opposition on their brand from an elderly woman going all Mormon and Baptist on its ass, well, you're not wrong, but that isn't even the best part. No, the best part is this.
“The full federal trademark has nothing to do with our right to sell beer, and no one is contesting our right to do that,” Tom Schlafly said. “We sell the equivalent of 20 million bottles of beer a year, and we want to keep someone else from selling beer and calling it Schlafly."
Get it yet? Phyllis Schlafly is contesting the trademark application because she doesn't like her name being associated with a beer brand. However, denying the mark wouldn't keep Tom Schlafly from using the name on his beer labels, he just wouldn't be able to register a trademark for it. In other words, the entire ultimate goal driving this opposition won't be attained by the opposition. Way to go, Phyllis! Other Schlaflys have been coming out of the woodwork since, including Andy Schlafly, Phyllis' son, and Bruce Schlafly, an orthopedic surgeon and also Phyllis' son, have since come out in opposition to the mark.

Fortunately, the brewery is likely to win.
Yvette Liebesman, an assistant professor of law at St. Louis University who teaches intellectual property law, said Schlafly beer has a strong case because the company has used the name in commerce for so long.

“The very first time they started selling beer from the tap, that is when they got rights to the mark,” she said. “They certainly have been around long enough to acquire a secondary meaning.” To get the trademark, Schlafly beer must show its goods are not likely to be confused with goods sold by others, Liebesman said. Phyllis Schlafly “would have to prove that there’s a likelihood that people would confuse the two, and I think that’s going to be tough,” Liebesman said.
But, like, Phyllis Schlafly is going to be so upset! Oh well, I'll just drown my sorrows in some brew. One Schlafly, please!

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Filed Under: beer, name rights, phyllis schlafly, schlafly, tom schlafly, trademark
Companies: st. louis brewery co.

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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 14 Mar 2014 @ 8:26am


    That would only apply if the Schlafly estate started selling beer.

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