In an article for the Nashville Business Journal, Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Brian Iverson and Matt Zapadka provided insight on how trademark laws help breweries protect their names and logos.
Nashville has more than two dozen breweries, and the United States has over 6,000. Given the competition in the industry, it is important for brewers to protect their brewery names, beer names, logos and other aspects of the brand that differentiate them from the rest of the crowd. To determine if two similarly named source identifiers are too close, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and courts apply the “likelihood of confusion test,” which is a fact-intensive analysis that aims to answer the question, “Does one brewer’s name or logo confuse consumers into believing that they are buying a beer manufactured by a different brewer?”
The strength of the mark, similarity of the marks, similarity of the products and the accused infringer’s intent and instances of actual confusion are all taken into account, along with the appearance, sound, meaning, context and overall impression of the two marks. Importantly, the marks to not need to be identical to be considered “confusingly similar.”
“To maximize [brand] value and minimize unwanted disputes, brewers should select their marks carefully and enforce their marks diligently,” said Brian and Matt.
The full article, “Trademarks Help Nashville Brewers Avoid Confusion,” was published by the Nashville Business Journal on June 28, 2019, and is available online and in the print edition.