A beer trademark search is essential to protecting your brand if you're developing a beer company. As microbreweries and craft beer companies become more popular in the United States, unique and distinctive names will be more difficult to claim. Any potential competitors within the beer industry might choose to claim a name that you'd like to trademark yourself, which increases the risk of possible confusion. That's why it's important to secure your trademark and protect its legal use for your own products and name. It can be a race to claim your mark first.

The following steps outline the process of trademarking your product:

  1. Come up with a distinctive name.
  2. Check whether the name is available by conducting a proper trademark search.
  3. File an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Start Researching Beer Names and Trademarks

Protecting your brand name and product names is one of the most significant steps to take within the beer industry. Craft beer is a creative area, and producers often come up with unique and compelling trademarks. However, inventing a brand name is only one step of the process. You must make sure the name is available. If it is, you must then register it as a trademark to make sure that only you will be allowed to use it.

Beer Advocate is a great place to start your search. The site attempts to list every single existing beer. They also state whether a beer is retired, which might mean that the owner has stopped using the trademark. However, the site does not list whether the companies have registered trademarks. Their lists are not entirely complete, nor do they list wines and distilled spirits, which you'll need to search in your naming process. Therefore, it's necessary to conduct a thorough trademark search to make sure you won't infringe on any other company's registered marks.

Search the USPTO website

Before selecting any beer or brewery names to use, conduct a proper trademark search. Start by visiting the USPTO website and click on "TESS search trademarks." From the search page, you may conduct different kinds of searches with different variables, such as trademark name, International Classification of goods and services, and more. To find entries by trademark name, choose the "Basic Word Mark Search (New User)" option.

Keep in mind that you'll need to be thorough in your name search. Say you want to name your beer "Riverside Red Ale." Just searching for that phrase alone won't be enough. You'll need to include phonetic variations (such as "River Side Redd" or "Riverside Rad") and other variables to avoid any infringement issues. This process will consist of multiple searches.

You'll also need to expand your search to include wine and spirits, as they are considered similar enough to beer to pose potential trademark issues should you choose a name that's similar to one already taken. Therefore, you'll definitely want to include types of alcoholic beverages (International Classes 32 and 33), and you might want to include all beverages in general or even restaurant and bar services (International Class 43).

File a Trademark Application with the USPTO

Once you're sure that nobody else will be able to make a claim to your chosen beer or brewery name, start filling out the USPTO trademark application. As beer name, brewery, and label all need separate submissions, give yourself time and make sure to eliminate any errors or confusion. Mistakes will cause your application to be delayed or rejected. This, in turn, might require you to start an entirely new application. As the beer industry is so competitive, any lost time could mean a lost chance at using your selected name.

Hire an Attorney

Although there are numerous beer websites and search tools available, your best in preventing your trademark from being rejected due to "likelihood of confusion" is to hire a trademark attorney. Such an attorney has access to more exhaustive search tools and can offer their professional opinion on the likelihood of your application either succeeding or failing. This will likely save you time and money later.

If you need help understanding how to conduct beer trademark search, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.