What Is a Trademark?

Beer trademarks are essential for a brewer trying to build and protect their brand. Trademarks are rights granted by the United States federal government that protect significant identifiers of a product.

Like many other industries, the brewing industry utilizes many different trademarks. Trademarks can include notable distinguishing features ranging from slogans to logos. Trademarks also can apply to different kinds of brewing products, ranging from certain kinds of beers, a specific brewery, or the brand for an entire company.

Brands are a major determinant of a beer's success or failure. Therefore, with so many trademarks in the brewing industry, properly creating and protecting trademarks is essential.

Is a Trademark Needed?

Trademarks do not necessarily need to be registered in order to be in force. Merely by using the trademark already in commerce, such as advertising your brewery or selling your distinguished beer brand, you have certain legal protections under common law.

The common law trademark protections are very limited and confined to the locale where you are currently operating. If you want to ensure your future expansion is protected, such as opening new breweries or selling beer in other regions, federal registration is required.

Trademark registration will allow you nationwide protection for the trademarked items. You can ensure your beers, brand, and brewery are legally protected to be uniquely you and your company's by getting a trademark.

The trademark will allow you to bring legal action against those who violate it, such as if they sell a beer similar to yours.

xTypes of Trademarks

There are four main forms of trademarks. They are as follows:

  • Generic
  • Descriptive
  • Suggestive
  • Arbitrary

Generic marks will not be given a trademark registration, as they are considered too vague and broad for trademark approval.

Descriptive trademarks are considered too general to be given a trademark registration, but may be given a registration if they are shown to have an added association that is worth trademarking.

Suggestive trademarks are likely able to be trademarked, but still require a sufficient showing that they are distinct enough to be trademarked.

When the trademark is arbitrary or essentially random, then its association with the business will create a strong trademark due to its association with the business.

Difference Between Trademark and Copyright

Trademark registration is essentially when a business is formally manifesting its common law protections from its current and future potential trademark use.

The trademark will only be granted when there is not already a similar trademark registered or with a submitted application.

Copyrights are very different, particularly for the beer industry. Copyrights can only be formally used after they have been registered as a trademark.

Knowing violation of a copyright, such as if another beer uses your copyrighted beer symbol, gives you immense legal recourse against them.

Copyrights and trademarks are quite different and have varying uses. Both are important, particularly in the brewing industry, for protecting your brand and products' ability to be distinguished.

Beer Naming Process Introduction

The names of your beers and brewery are essential to your company, as they will be how your beers are known to the public. A beer's brand and reputation is the major determinant of its retail sales, as the public gains a particular expectation for the beer.

The beer and brewery are also some of the items you should considered trademarking as soon as you settle on them.

As your brand is the heart of your business, protecting it with a trademark secures it in place.

Because of all the licensing requirements for breweries, many forget that they also still need to file a separate trademark application in order to secure their national rights.

Just because you've received a license or have a website, it does not mean you have full federal trademark protection for your beer and brewery.

A little bit of work early on can save you a lot of problems later on, especially if you come into conflict with others using beer names, logos, and designs similar to yours.

It may be worth consulting with a patent attorney to prepare your application.

If you need help with filing your beer trademark, 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.