Collaboration, Litigation And The Protection Of Intellectual Property

Posted on August 17, 2011

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In recent years, microbreweries have been growing in popularity as an innovative and creative business venture in the realm of food and beverage. As a business, microbreweries tend to harp on qualities such as uniqueness to their brand, and the names of their individual beers follow suit.  With the rapid growth of microbreweries, it was inevitable that one brewery named a particular beer the same name as another brewery’s beer.

One such case where a conflict occurred is between Avery Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company, where both companies desired to name an ale “Salvation.” In previous years, wine and beer companies have contested the right of competitors to name their beer or wine brand the name that they found rightfully theirs, resulting in expensive litigation battles.  However, in the case of Avery and Russian River, the two microbrewery owners decided to amicably solve the name conflict and combine the two beers to create an entirely different name.  The name they chose, appropriately enough, was “Collaboration Not Litigation.”

While this particular case had a happy ending, trademark attorneys caution that similar action by others may raise problems in the future. According to the American Bar Association’s assessment of the case between Avery and Russian River, it makes it more difficult to prevent the integrity of branding and naming such beverage companies. This case again highlights the importance of trademark clearance searches prior to bringing a product to market and the importance of monitoring third party use of one’s intellectual property.

Elizabeth Ritter
Ritter Law Firm, LLC

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