Anheuser-Busch Drops Trademark Opposition Against Natty Greene Brewing Co.

from the yay dept

Anheuser-Busch is no stranger when it comes to silly little intellectual property conflicts. Sometimes the perp, sometimes the victim, the insanely large beer-maker often finds itself deviating from the business of making beer and instead landing in the courtroom. The company's latest foray centered around a perceived large threat from a tiny little brewery called Natty Greene Brewing.

Last summer, Anheuser-Busch filed opposition to Natty Greene’s application to trademark “Natty Greene.” The company said it has been using the “Natty” name in connection with its line of beers since at least 1998 and that it has trademarks for “Natty Light” and “Fatty Natty” — also known as Natural Light beer — as well as its Natty Daddy brand. The company felt that the Natty Greene’s trademark would cause confusion among consumers.
Natty Greene is a small micro-brewery with a couple of locations out of North Carolina and they make craft beer. Anheuser-Busch is a macro-brewery if ever there was one and Natural Light is what college kids drink because it costs roughly the same as a thimble of sand in the Arabian Desert. The chance of someone attending a tasting at a Natty Greene location and somehow thinking the whole thing was coordinated by the same people who make Budweiser, Beck's and Natural Light is effectively null.

And, in a rare sign that sense still exists in this crazy, crazy world, apparently the folks over at A-B agree.
Anheuser-Busch late last week agreed to drop its opposition to the trademark application Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Co. is pursuing. David Sar, an attorney with the Greensboro law firm of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard who handled the matter for Natty Greene’s, said Anheuser-Busch filed its withdrawal on Friday. Sar said it was withdrawn with “prejudice,” meaning it can’t be refiled. He added that the two sides reached a confidential resolution. The trademark office will now most likely grant Natty Greene’s its trademark, he said.
It's a nice end to the story, I suppose, but the resolution leaves me questioning why any of this had to happen in the first place? With just a small application of the common-sense-juice to A-B's lawyers' brain-thoughts, a whole lot of time and money could have been avoided, considering we ended up in the same place as though no opposition had been filed anyway.

Filed Under: beer, trademark
Companies: anheuser-busch, natty greene


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    antidirt (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 8:26pm

    Natty Greene is a small micro-brewery with a couple of locations out of North Carolina and they make craft beer. Anheuser-Busch is a macro-brewery if ever there was one and Natural Light is what college kids drink because it costs roughly the same as a thimble of sand in the Arabian Desert.

    The fact that it's so popular actually favors A-B, on both the confusion and the dilution claims it argued in the opposition. (You seem to assume it's just confusion. The opposition says dilution as well.)

    The chance of someone attending a tasting at a Natty Greene location and somehow thinking the whole thing was coordinated by the same people who make Budweiser, Beck's and Natural Light is effectively null.

    Why look at whether customers at the brewery are confused? If I saw this beer at the store (and I believe it's available in a few states, not just the brewery), my first thought would be Natty Light. I don't think it's that crazy.

    With just a small application of the common-sense-juice to A-B's lawyers' brain-thoughts, a whole lot of time and money could have been avoided, considering we ended up in the same place as though no opposition had been filed anyway.

    They spent many months working out a settlement. Why assume the end result of that confidential settlement has them in the same exact position? That makes little sense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 11:17pm

      Re:

      Of course you're her first.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 11:27pm

      Re:

      "I don't think it's that crazy."

      Well, if ever there was a test of the moron in a hurry theory, you'd be it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 7:49am

        Re: Re:

        Hmmm I don't think so. He actively cheats the test to look even more of a moron than he actually is. Either that or we will have to delve on the psychiatry fields...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 8:29am

      Re:

      "my first thought would be Natty Light."

      Seriously?? Have you looked at the labeling? Not even remotely similar.

      The fact that the microbrewery wants to keep calling themselves "Natty Greene" is pretty solid evidence that there's no substantial consumer confusion. The last thing in the world that Natty Greene would want is for people to think their product is an AB brand. That would pretty much ruin them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 19 Feb 2015 @ 11:50pm

    Yes, we wouldn't want to have A-B products confused with something that can't possibly be remotely as horrible as theirs.

    Now if there were some other brewery making pisswater as a side business to threatening distributors, retailers, and smaller breweries over turf, and making ridiculous trademark claims, then i might be confused.

    The company said it has been using the “Natty” name in connection with its line of beers since at least 1998 and that it has trademarks for “Natty Light” and “Fatty Natty” — also known as Natural Light beer — as well as its Natty Daddy brand.

    R U quite srs?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mcinsand, 20 Feb 2015 @ 5:56am

    thanks for the reminder!

    Thanks for the reminder. I need to get a Natty Greene's growler refilled before the weekend.

    As for getting name confusion, the argument becomes even more ridiculous when you consider where the beer is marketed. The beer is named for Nathaniel Greene, as well as the town where the beer is made: Greensboro.

    In Greensboro, there will be little market confusion. Then again, if it's sold out of Greensboro, it'll be in a specialty section...one that'll actually feature beer... so you won't find a six-pack of Natural Lite or Bud Light anywhere near it. Those really belong in the soda section, anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matthew A. Sawtell, 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:21am

    Do not take this as a good sign...

    ... given that AB InBev is probably just getting ready to buy yet another brewer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 7:04am

    You know why this happens.... money

    You know why this was filed by some lawyer. They got paid either way, and they're paid to be "safe". If they didn't, and then they had a (perceived) problem down the road, they would be prejudiced because they didn't file when they coulda shoulda woulda done so.

    The laywer who did this doesn't get less money for doing this, and might even get more, because now they got to bill for all those extra hours of confidential negotiation. Esp if they're an outside law firm.

    Sad to say the least.

    Anyway, I'm not sure how you can dilute Natty Lite any more and not have plain water anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 7:54am

      Re: You know why this happens.... money

      ...I'm not sure how you can dilute Natty Lite any more and not have water...


      Natty Lite? Or did you mean Bud Lite?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 8:53am

    Natty Boh FTW!

    What about Natty Boh? (National Bohemian). They should sue both of them ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.