Bell’s Brewery On The Losing End Of Trademark Dispute

You win some…You lose some…And Bell’s Brewery just came out on the losing end of a long-running trademark dispute with a North Carolina brewery that’s been going on since 2014.

Here’s the deal…

According to MLive  Innovation Brewing, “is clear to register its name and branding after the appeals board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office dismissed a complaint from Bell’s that the microbrewery’s name is too close to two of Bell’s marketing phrases.”

The issue revolved around the use of two phrases “Inspired brewing” and “Bottling innovation since 1985.”

Bell’s position was that Innovation Brewing’s name sounded too much like the brewery’s unregistered advertising slogan, “Bottling innovation since 1985.”

The Michigan-based craft beer major also claimed the word ‘inspired,’ which Bell’s has used on some logos and marketing materials within the phrase “Inspired Brewing,” carried the same meaning as the word “innovation.”

Not surprisingly, the complaint drew criticism from beer lovers and others, many seeing this litigation as a David vs Goliath kind of thing…

While Bell’s is hardly Anheuser-Busch, they are the seventh largest craft brewer in the nation and distributed in 32 states. In 2016 alone they produced more than 463,000 barrels of beer compared to Jackson County, North Carolina’s Innovation Brewing who brewed less than 1,200 barrels of beer last year…

And although America does tend to gravitate to perceived underdogs, It’s not like Bell’s was suing the small brewery…Nor were they asking Innovation Brewing to stop selling its beer, change its name or logo.

As MLive explained, this was about asking the Sylva, NC brewery to withdraw their trademark application which Bell’s argued unsuccessfully, could “impact on our brand, which we have spent 30 years building.”

Regarding the words “inspired” and “innovation” the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found …

“There simply is no overlap in the meanings of these two words. (The) opposer’s argument that both words have a similar connotation… such that they will be confused and mistaken by consumers as one for the other or as coming from the same source … is insufficient.”

So score one for Innovation Brewing in this particular case, and we expect that for Bell’s Brewery it will be business as usual…

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