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Showing posts from May, 2018

Trademarks in the Beverage Space

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Atlas Cider Co., out of Bend, OR, will be changing their name to “Avid Hard Cider” after Atlas Brew Works challenged use of the name. Atlas Brew Works, a brewery out of Washington, DC, felt that the name Atlas Cider Co. was confusingly similar to their mark. At the end of the day, Atlas Cider Co. changed their name in order to avoid potential legal conflict.
     With the boom of craft brewing, boutique wineries, and the growth of craft distilling in recent years, trademarks in the beer, cider, wine, and spirits categories have become increasingly competitive. Further, case law has shown that even marks for non-alcoholic beverages may sometimes be considered confusingly similar with marks for alcoholic beverages.
     That being the case, it has become especially important to have a trademark clearance search performed if you are a beverage company. Further, developing and protecting marks which establish the look and feel for your company, such as a logo, can act as another form of …

The Natural Wine Movement and Trademarks

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Trademark law generally prevents businesses from appropriating descriptive terms as part of their trademark. In the Food and Beverage Industry (FBI), this is illustrated by how the term "organic" is often treated. For example, when trying to protect a group of words that include "organic", the applicant must often disclaim that part of the mark due it being considered descriptive.
With the recent explosion of the natural wine movement, many in the wine industry may be looking to protect marks for these products and may want to incorporate terms like natural or organic into their branding. While many will likely have to disclaim such terms, there may be other options to those that enter the market at this early stage of development of this new wine category.
Specifically, before terms have well-understood meanings in the market, there may be creative ways to carve out protection specific to the wine industry and forward looking TM counsel should not automatically d…

Nikola v. Tesla

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The phrase "Nikola Tesla" used to bring to mind the famous inventor known for many things including his involvement in the "War of the Currents" and related intellectual property deals and disputes with Edison. Today, "Nikola v. Tesla" might become the more well-known phrase, again referring to a potential intellectual property and broader business war. But here, the battle is between two start-up heavy industry companies over heavy-duty electric truck technology.
Specifically, Nikola Industries filed suit alleging patent infringement by Tesla of its truck design in the US District Court for the District of Arizona. Tesla's complaint contains many shocking allegations regarding what appears to be unscrupulous business practices by Tesla, but what is most interesting from a patent strategy perspective is the design patent filings made by Nikola to protect their design. Specifcally, as discussed in previous posts (here, and here,,,), Nikola strategicall…