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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2015 @ 11:43pm

    AB didn't want to be known as the "Queen of Beers" for fear of the homophobic slurs by boozed up fans.

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

  • icon
    El Mariachi (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:12am

    Budweiser has the least claim to moral high ground of any brewery vis-à-vis trademark issues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweiser_trademark_dispute#Dispute

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

  • icon
    blogagog (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:30am

    I'm siding with Bud

    I dunno. Budweiser may be right on this one. As you know, social justice warriors are demanding that everyone accept and preach that there is no difference between the sexes.

    And if you don't agree with me RIGHT NOW I'm going to report you to the internet feminist shock troops.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 4:01am

      Re: I'm siding with Bud

      The King and Queen of the same nation are historically married to one another. While they are different gender the King and Queen of beer do imply they are associated with one another.

      King of England
      Queen of England
      Monarchs of the same nation, England.

      King of beer
      Queen of beer
      Monarchs of the same product, beer.

      If I did not know I would assume the queen of beers is associated with, or possibly making fun of the king of beers.

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

      • icon
        Drawoc Suomynona (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: I'm siding with Bud

        "King of Beers" is a well known slogan, and most folks know the Budweiser tagline. I'm actually surprised that they didn't get an outright rejection from the trademark examiner to begin with. Any application for a tagline for a beer using "(insert any royal title) of Beers" will get AB's attention and if it goes to court AB will win in a heartbeat. It is most certainly confusingly similar and it would easily mislead consumers as to the source of the product.

        Again, ask yourself this question - would party B have chosen the name/brand/trademark that they did if it were not for the existence of the name/brand/trademark of party A. If the answer is no, then there's a good chance that party B is trading off the goodwill, the notoriety, the fame of party A.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Re: I'm siding with Bud

          If the answer is no, then there's a good chance that party B is trading off the goodwill, the notoriety, the fame of party A.

          And if the answer is yes?

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

  • identicon
    David, 27 Aug 2015 @ 12:39am

    She should give in

    and rename her trademark to "Empress of Beers". Or "Popess of Beers". Or "Goddess of Beers". Or "Beer Hovel".

    Sorry, got carried away.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 9:10am

      Re: She should give in

      ..."Popess of Beers"...

      I must have had too many beers. I first read that as "Pope of Beers" and it took me a few minutes to realize my error!

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

  • identicon
    An-other-onymous, 27 Aug 2015 @ 2:18am

    Surely the AB concoction is the Pretender of Beers given it's distant relationship to anything with flavour?
    (Cue beer wars)

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

  • identicon
    Harry, 27 Aug 2015 @ 2:42am

    I thought "Queen of Beers" slogan belongs to Warsteiner beer

    logonoid.com/warsteiner-logo
    Although it really says "Queen among the beers." So go figure...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 2:58am

    AB !== "The $everyRoyalMoniker of $productTypeBeers"

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

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 3:09am

    As a foreigner (Australian)m who actually understands what beer is. I find not only Budweiser's usage of making themselves out to be 'The King of Beers" not only pure puffery but fucking hilarious.

    In fact Budweiser calling themselves a Beer is wrong on so many levels.. Maybe they should call themselves the "King of screwing in a boat".. cause what they sell is basically 'fucking close to water'

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Foster's is worse than Bud. Foster's it's australian for shitty.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re:

        People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Foster's is worse than Bud.

        Can you point to the part where he said Foster's is good? Or that all beers from Australia are good?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 9:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The part where he said "As a foreigner (Australian)m who actually understands what beer is." pretty implicitly implies that Australian beer is better and also implies that he characterizes beer from America as not good.

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

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 10:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I would say that implies that there is good beer available in Australia, not that all Australian beer is good.

            Now this would indicate there is not good beer available in the US. I'm sure there are many, many people who would find such a claim laughable.

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

        • icon
          G Thompson (profile), 28 Aug 2015 @ 3:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Foster's is an EXPORT beverage and rarely drunk in Australia by anyone other than maybe foreigners who ask for it thinking it's our national Drink.
          Notice I don't deem to call it a beer - because it's more akin to Emu piss than anything else.

          Bud on the other hand is a beverage (again distinction of NOT beer) that is absolutely sold in the USA as the USA beer of choice (like miller's... nuff said).

          There are a lot of beers in the USA that are great. Bud isn't one of them

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Foster's is worse than Bud. Foster's it's australian for shitty.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:41am

      Re:

      People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Foster's is worse than Bud. Foster's it's australian for shitty.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard, 27 Aug 2015 @ 3:32am

    Thanks, Anheuser-Busch

    All you've done is give free publicity to She Beverage Co.

    It's just like when Red Bull tried to beat down the Redwell Brewery in England.

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

  • identicon
    cpt kangarooski, 27 Aug 2015 @ 5:06am

    Well, so much for my side project to brew the Viscount of Beers.

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

  • icon
    Dan (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 5:29am

    A little late...

    If AB is really concerned about this, they should go after Warsteiner, whose slogan "eine Koenigin under den Bieren" translates to "a queen among beers". Of course, Warsteiner has been around since 1753 (a relative newbie for Germany), so AB would have trouble showing the first use...

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

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:08am

      Re: A little late...

      Warsteiner has been around since 1753 (a relative newbie for Germany), so AB would have trouble showing the first use...

      Never bothered them with the Budweiser name itself ...(that is until the original Budweiser fought back)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budweiser_trademark_dispute

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

    • icon
      Farley Finster (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 9:07am

      Re: A little late...

      Warsteiner is one of AB-InBev's brands. I dropped in to point out that they have this phrase already and have been using it (in German) in the US since at least 1991.

      AB's aggressive stance is surprising; the size and reach of the company has have them concerned about running afoul of cartel and monopoly laws. Print media in the EU already tends to refer to the conglomerate as a cartel.

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

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:01am

    Difference

    but even I can tell the difference between a king and a queen, one being male and the other female.

    Hmmm, are you sure? - Maybe you need to add "or appearing to be"

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

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:04am

    Opposite

    Other than the key identifier of the mark being the exact opposite, they're exactly the same.

    "Queen" is not at all the opposite of "king". The definitions of the words are in fact very similar, just differing in one (arguably important, but also arguably not very important) way.

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

    • identicon
      David, 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:21am

      Re: Opposite

      No, it's more than one thing. The spouse of a reigning king is a queen. The spouse of a reigning queen is a consort.

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

  • icon
    Drawoc Suomynona (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:38am

    "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."

    It's not surprising really, because AB knows that they have a famous mark and that they have the legal means to protect their tagline without filing applications for every possible iteration of their mark. Why should AB have to file "The Prince of Beers" or "The Duke of Beers" just to protect their mark? They don't, because they understand, and courts understand, how language works.

    The other reason they don't file such marks is because that would be fraud in the eyes of the trademark office. When you file a trademark application for a mark that is not yet used, but based on your intent to use it in the future, you must attest, under penalty of law, that the applicant intends to use the mark. In the eyes of the law, if AB doesn't intend to use the slogan "The Queen of Beers", any new application would be considered fraudulent. That's not to say it doesn't happen all the time, but it's not a sound method of protecting one's trademarks.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 7:45am

    why would they want it

    If I were running a craft brewery, I would be way more bothered than anybody at AB if I thought the public might think I was associated with them.

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

  • icon
    AC (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 8:21am

    She should be thanking AB for warning them off

    The LAST thing I'd want is for my potential customers to think my product has anything in common with AB beer. The effect here would be to protect She's brand much more than AB's.

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

  • icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 8:45am

    Budweiser == piss?

    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.

    Is it me, or when I read this line, do I read what Tim meant to say as somehow confused for the mega-corporation that pumps out piss.

    Gotta be me.

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

    • icon
      Tanner Andrews (profile), 29 Aug 2015 @ 4:37am

      Re: Budweiser == piss?


      somehow confused for the mega-corporation that pumps out piss.

      Well, you may have hit upon the reason for keeping all those clydesdales. And, see Dickes v. Fenne, 82 Eng.Rep. 411 (K.B. 1640).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2015 @ 9:23am

    I think "The Village Bicycle of Beers" would be more appropriate for AB.

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

  • icon
    El Mariachi (profile), 27 Aug 2015 @ 11:38am

    Come to think of it, it is a little odd that a brand that leans so heavily on Americana in its advertising clings to monarchist language in its slogan.

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

  • identicon
    anonymous, 27 Aug 2015 @ 6:49pm

    I'd like to see "the hobo of beers."

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


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