This blog was originally written as a guest post for Indiana on Tap.
As most people know, the craft beer industry has exploded in the past ten years. In 2005, there were slightly less than 1,500 craft breweries in the United States. Now there are almost 3,500. The explosion has led to a craft beer renaissance, which consumers have greatly benefited from. Breweries have been developing new styles and coming up with names that will make sure you never forget the beer you just finished. Names like Osiris® or Zombie Dust® automatically take our mind to a hop island paradise. As the explosion of new brews crowds bar taps and shelf space, protecting brands has become increasingly important.
One of the best ways to protect your brand is to register your trademark. Doing so protects a brand’s reputation and it helps distinguish the quality of your libations from that of others. With only so many ways and names that you can coin the name of your beer it is imperative to choose a name that does not infringe on somebody else’s.
As a small business owner the stakes are high. At risk is the chance of spending thousands of dollars marketing a new beer to only find out that another brewery already has trademark rights to that name. To make sure that you do not make that mistake, this article will hopefully answer some questions that a new brewer or interested beer drinker might have about the ins and outs of trademarks, the process of obtaining one, and the strategy for enforcing it.