In 2019 Patagonia sued Budweiser’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch AB InBev, for selling a beer that bears its name with imaging that evokes the fashion line’s rugged, brand and logo.
The federal lawsuit accused AB InBev of trademark infringement for as CNN explains “copying the brand’s name and aesthetic on its beer. AB’s Patagonia beer packaging includes a silhouette of a mountain and the word Patagonia in bold lettering.”
In the lawsuit company Patagonia alleged that AB InBev “has gone as far as creating a logo that is strikingly similar to Patagonia’s famous mountain silhouette logo that has appeared continuously for decades on millions of products.”
To make matters worse, Patagonia, a fashion line which specializes in clothing for outdoor pursuits such as hiking or skiing, has its own line of Long Root beers which are sold through its Patagonia Provisions arm. So it’s not like they aren’t in the beer business.
On the other hand AB InBev had been granted a trademark to sell Patagonia beer in the United States in 2012. But the company sat on the name and the product until 2018, when it started a selling beer with the branding at ski resorts in Colorado, a huge market place for Patagonia apparel.
Patagonia alleged that AB InBev secured the registration of the Patagonia trademark unlawfully, arguing that the first emergence of a “Patagonia” trademark for beer came from Argentina-based brewer Warsteiner Importers, which filed an intent-to-use application for a Patagonia beer trademark in 2006.
Contending that it still intended to use the trademark, Warsteiner filed a number of extensions, including one in 2011, but the importer never released a beer. In March 2012 AB InBev asked it to file one more extension and then bought the application.
As TechDirt reports, “the company picked up on a long-delayed application by another beer maker, bought the application rights to the trademark, and then claimed it had been using the mark for five years, which it had not. When Patagonia first learned of the application, it assumed AB/InBev’s application was legit, but later learned that it was not.”
In a September ruling US District Court for the central district of California’s Western Division-Los Angeles rejected Anheuser-Busch’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit saying that he branding AB InBev used was sufficiently similar that a jury needs to decide if there was true trademark infringement.
And unless a settlement is reached this trademark dispute could go to trial next year.