A January 5, 2015, post on NPR’s “The Salt” blog reports that trademark disputes have come to a head in the craft brewing market, where more than 3,000 companies compete for a dwindling number of pithy beer names. Although many brewers work to resolve issues outside the courtroom, there has also been an increase in litigation alleging trademark violations focused on overlapping product names, font styles and label designs. In some cases, brewers that have used beer names for decades have come under fire from new companies looking to trademark them. In particular, the article notes that many hop-related puns—such as “Hopscotch” and “Bitter End”—are currently used on more than one product.
“American trademark law lumps breweries together with wineries and distilleries, making the naming game even more chancy,” concludes NPR. “Even imagery can be trademarked and protected in court.”