The beer industry, which has long been plagued by litigious beer naming controversies, received some sobering news late Friday, when news broke that American Craft Beer LLC had secured trademark rights to the word Beer™.
Here’s what we know…
One of the industry’s more controversial voices, American Craft Beer has been covering craft beer news, entertainment and lifestyle since 2012 and it’s been a sometimes tumultuous ride for the organization.
Dismissed by craft beer’s more credible publications, American Craft Beer has been accused over its tenure of everything from whoring themselves out for free beer shipments, to widespread “print pandering” practices.
In 2019, American Craft Beer Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Tom Bobak, was arrested in a pre-dawn raid on charges of “beer-hyping” – an unfortunate practice still thought to be widespread throughout craft beer media.
And although those charges were eventually dismissed, the taint of that unfortunate incident still colors the organization.
Other accusations include persistent rumors that American Craft Beer LLC might be secretly owned by brewing giant AB-InBev (which would explain their seemingly endless flacking for breweries like Goose Island, Elysian, Wicked Weed, Devils Backbone and 10 Barrel Brewing).
Which makes Friday’s news that this “questionable” beer news outlet had successfully secured trademark rights to the word Beer™, all the more concerning.
And the fact that the Washington, DC-headquartered American Craft Beer LLC now has legal jurisdiction and control of the industry’s most widely used word, Beer™ has, at least temporarily, brought the industry to a halt…
Industry professionals are reported to be spending hours, barricaded behind closed doors with their legal teams, trying to decipher how American Craft Beer’s control of the word Beer™ will impact their businesses going forward.
Some breweries are already suggesting that they’ll be forgoing the use of the word Beer™ entirely, and going with terms like Ales, Lagers, IPAs or Stouts in labeling and future marketing campaigns, rather than engage in what could prove costly negotiations with American Craft Beer’s legal team. Others are considering getting out of the Beer™ biz altogether and moving into hard seltzers.
Media leaders are equally stunned…
“I just read the press release we received from American Craft Beer and I’m not at all surprised that Bobak would make an audacious play like this” remarked John Holl, Author of the American Craft Beer Cookbook and the Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast…
“I can’t imagine the amount of money his organization spent, wining and dining enough politicians to make this thing happen. It’s been tough going lately for the industry thanks to the lingering impact of COVID-19, and news that this sketchy online publication now controls the word Beer™ is a body blow.”
You can read the entire American Craft Beer PRESS RELEASE HERE.