Warner Brothers, the film studio that owns the rights to the Willy Wonka movies, has asked the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to stop a Georgia craft brewer’s use of “Golden Ticket” as the name for a chocolate stout beer, claiming that the name could lead some to believe the filmmaker is promoting underage drinking. Warner Bros. Entm’t Inc. v. S. Sky Brewing Co., No. 91233169 (T.T.A.B., filed March 1, 2017).
In the Willy Wonka movies, children who found golden tickets tucked inside chocolate-bar packaging won a tour of the chocolate factory and a chance to win a grand prize. Warner Brothers claims the name “Golden Ticket” is an “intent to capitalize” on the popularity of the films, alleging that Southern Sky’s beer is advertised as “reminiscent of a chocolate hazelnut candy bar and as creamy as chocolate milk,” reinforcing the “mental association” with Willy Wonka.
Warner Brothers asserts that it maintains active licensing of Willy Wonka-related products and that “[c]hildren, parents and others are likely to believe mistakenly that the display of applicant’s 'Golden Ticket' mark on an alcoholic beverage is an attempt ... to promote the sale of alcohol to minors.”