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The Fraught Process of Naming Beers

Each new brewery that opens in the United States means new beers that need names. Finding ones that aren’t already taken or run up against a trademark isn’t difficult. Do the legwork in advance to save headaches and possible legal fees down the line.

Mike Drumm Jul 5, 2018 - 11 min read

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” If Shakespeare’s Juliet were alive today (and not fictional), maybe she could consult with craft breweries on naming their beers (fun fact: Romeo and Juliet was written in the late sixteenth century; approximate number of breweries in the United States in the sixteenth century: 0).

Unless you are living under a rock, you know that craft breweries have experienced explosive growth throughout the United States (5,562 breweries to date, and another 2,700 in planning as of July 2017). These breweries are also brewing an unprecedented variety of beers. Each of these beers is a trademark. “A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others and to indicate the source of the goods/services” [emphasis added].

For a trademark to serve its purpose and distinguish one seller’s goods from another, no other seller of the same good can have the same trademark. This includes hops puns. With this many breweries and beers, it is inevitable that breweries will—intentionally or not—adopt names with common words or other elements.

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