Trademark

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
beer, trademark, wine

Companies:
e & b beer, e & j gallo



E And J Gallo Sends Cease And Desist Trademark Notice To E And B Beer

from the bullies-be-bullying dept

It's been a refreshing bit of time since we've last written about a silly trademark dispute in the beer and alcohol space, so perhaps you, the dear Techdirt reader, had thought that the complete fuster-cluck that is trademark and alcohol had somehow begun to calm the hell down. Sadly, not so much, it seems. To serve as one reminder, E & J Gallo, maker of wines and spirits and a company that has previously demonstrated its inability to tell different kinds of drinks apart, has sent a cease and desist notice to E & B Beer, a company that makes, you know, beer.

The case pits well known wine and liquor company E and J Gallo against E and B Beer. The owner of Eand B, Santo Landa, says he sees no similarity and feels like this is a case of a big company trying to stomp out the little guy.E and B Beer has been around since the late 1800s in Detroit. It's already been trademarked once before.

Since buying the brand, Landa applied for his own trademark but he's run into a roadblock. An attorney for E and J sent a legal notice saying similarities may cause confusion for customers.

So, let's start with the names of each company. It should be immediately clear that any concern about confusion between the two names is fairly silly. The only similarity between them is the "E and" at the start of each name. Everything else about the names is distinct, from the second initial used to the inclusion of another name (Gallo) and the other mark's description of what the product is (beer). Even if we set aside my personal quest to have the Trademark Office realize that beer, wine, and spirits are all distinct industries and should be treated as such for the purposes of trademark, there's little likelihood of confusion purely from the names of each business. Add to that the logos for each company are beyond distinct and it seems clear that confusion ain't going to be a thing.



None of each company's various iterations of their logos appear to be any more similar than the above. Other than the start of the name and both logos having red in them, there's just nothing there. Certainly not enough to rise to the level of trademark infringement. Which is probably why Landa himself can't figure out what the issue is and sees this as nothing more than a bullying attempt by a larger company.

"I'd like to get an explanation as to what they think is confusion," he says.

The most troubling thing for Landa? He insists he can win a legal fight, but not without big money - money he simply doesn't have.

Now, E and J Gallo apparently offered Landa the rights to keep his name, but only if he limited his sales to 2 states. If you think that's reasonable, you aren't paying attention, because there's nothing remotely like trademark infringement here and there is no reason for Landa to give up his right to sell anywhere at all, never mind limiting himself to 4% of the country's states.


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  1. icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 28 Jul 2017 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why "big money"?

    Do you speak from experience as an attorney or litigant?

    If you're correct, and if the courts don't address the justice of that via assignment of costs, etc., then this is a condemnation of far more than the PTO and trademark law - it's a condemnation of our entire legal system.

    But I don't know if you're correct.

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