by Timothy Geigner

Filed Under:
portland, trademark

old town brewing

Hospitality Industry Group Pushes Back On Portland's Attempt To Trademark Bully A Local Brewery

from the all-together-now dept

Just a quick update from Portland, Oregon, folks. After the city engaged in some truly impish behavior by trying to bully aside a local brewery that has a trademark on Portland's iconic jumping-deer sign, there have been no further negotiations on a resolution between the two sides. See, the city of Portland really wants to license the trademark for the image of the sign to national and international macrobrewers, whereas Old Town Brewing just wants to have the same trademark rights it has legally held for that image in the alcohol industries since 2012. You might have thought that a refusal of the mark by the USPTO would have ended this story. You would be wrong.

Apparently, the city has filed multiple trademark applications in the hopes that something, anything, will get approved. This is according to a Portland hospitality industry group, which has taken notice of the city's actions and is firing off angry letters to its own mayor as a result.

The Old Town Hospitality Group, which counts 25-plus restaurants and taverns, said in a letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler that the city is "wasting taxpayer money." The issue relates to a trademark held by Old Town Brewing on the "leaping deer" logo, which adorns the "Portland Oregon" sign above the Burnside Bridge.

The Old Town Hospitality Group called on the city "to stop filing trademark application after trademark application for an image that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has repeatedly determined is confusing. Tell the city’s attorneys that it is wrong and an abuse of power to attempt to bury Old Town Pizza & Brewing in legal fees."

It's worth repeating that Old Town Brewing is in Portland. Its patrons, and likely its owners, are constituents of the very city actively trying to pretend its trademark doesn't exist while burying the tax-paying business in legal fees for no legitimate reason. Simply wanting really badly to license a trademark it doesn't own doesn't justify the city's actions. And, now that it's not just the brewery pushing back, but an industry group of member companies along with it, it might just be a matter of time before enough of the regular public gets wind of this and City Hall has a very real problem on its hands.

Or it could stop harrassing a local business, I suppose, but that seems like an awful lot to ask.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2017 @ 7:57pm

    As a Portland resident, I can guarantee you there are tens of thousands of key chains, t-shirts, posters, etc. of the damn sign that are completely unlicensed for sale in shops throughout the PDX metro area. This continues to be inconsistent and ridiculous.

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

  • identicon
    tooth, 12 Dec 2017 @ 10:49pm


    i had a tooth extraction today and it sounds exactly what is happening here. tooth extraction is painful so in lawyers fees. tooth extraction can be painful after the event for a few days, so can lawyers.

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

  • identicon
    dadtaxi, 13 Dec 2017 @ 1:12am

    I'm not from the area and hav'nt looked at detail at the underlying issues. However it occurs to me that if the jumping-deer sign is iconic to Portland then why was the Old Town Brewing able to obtain trademark on that in the first place?

    ( of course assuming the iconic nature existed prior to the trademark)

    Any further details on that?

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

    • icon
      An Onymous Coward (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 11:06am


      The stag originated on a large neon billboard with the outline of the state of Oregon that was altered to add a stag to advertise the White Stage Apparel Company in 1957. It is not an official Oregon trademark, never was. Oregon's current efforts are entirely disingenuous, pretty much par for the course in that corrupt state.


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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 3:54am

    But but but the lawyers told me how valuable the IP is & all of the money that would come pouring into our coffers if we control the mark.
    This silly little company is standing in the way of progress!!!

    Maybe city coffers are suffering because the city is willing to SUE businesses in the community to seize IP & magically somehow a large brewing corporation will pay top dollar to use the trademark on their brand.... because they don't have enough brands already, and a jumping deer would TOTALLY make people want to drink that beer above all others.

    Instead of looking for amazing hail marys to save the budget, perhaps it is time to admit we can't do everything we promised or are supposed to do with the bloated bureaucracy that gobbles up budgets & returns little to the citizens.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Dec 2017 @ 3:49pm


      But think of all the hospitality box invites at big games the city execs will be missing out on if this deal doesn't happen.

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

  • icon
    ralph_the_bus_driver (profile), 13 Dec 2017 @ 5:17am

    A couple of breweries sell beer with moose heads on the bottle. Having the poor fortune of tasting what I can only describe as moose urine, ya, I can see this being a micro-brewery.

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

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