Another Battle Over Craft Beer | Innovation Brewing

Bell’s Brewery, a Kalamazoo, Michigan brewery, filed an opposition with the U.S. Trademark Trials and Appeals Board against Innovation Brewing’s attempt to trademark “Innovation Brewing.” Bell’s Brewery asserts rights in the unregistered slogan – “bottling innovation since 1985” – which Bell’s uses on bumper stickers. Additionally, Bell’s asserts that it uses the slogan “inspired brewing,” which is confusingly similar to Innovation Brewing’s name. Accordingly, Bell’s argues that the similarity between the Innovation Brewing name and the Bell’s slogans is “likely to cause confusion and mistake, and to deceive and mislead consumers into believing that (Innovation Brewing’s) beverages originated, are sponsored by, are licensed from, or are jointly owned by or otherwise associated with (Bell’s) and/or (Bell’s) goods marked with its Inspired Brewing trademark.” Innovation Brewing is a small North Carolina company, founded in 2013, that makes about 500 barrels of beer a year and sells its beers mostly in Jackson County. The Asheville Brewers Alliance, a trade organization of 45 area breweries and beer-related businesses, is supporting Innovation Brewing. Innovation Brewing has also set up a GoFundMe page to raise the $40,000 it needs to address the opposition.

Although the opposition did not originally garner much attention, the war is now brewing on social media. Innovation Brewing posted a statement on Facebook that it did “not believe any human on Earth would confuse Innovation Brewing with Bell’s Brewery, despite their slogans.” Bell’s responded on Facebook, stating that it is not seeking money or asking for a name change, but is instead “asking [Innovation Brewing] to withdraw their federal trademark application.”

Regardless of the outcome of this trademark dispute, the opposition will likely have far-reaching impacts on both companies going forward.


For more information on this topic, please visit our Trademark service page.

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