Trademarks for Craft Brewers and Distillers

As the craft brewery and distillery market becomes increasingly crowded, it is more important than ever to manage your brand from the start, including your trademarks. The trademarks you choose have important long term consequences, including identifying your brand and products, while avoiding potential litigation down the road if you find yourself confusingly similar to others in the space.

“A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.” – uspto.gov.

So what is your Trademark?

Working with a trademark attorney can help you identify what your trademark is and what parts of your mark is protectible. Can you protect your brewery name? What about the product name itself? The label and colors? The United States Patent and Trademark Office provide specific guidelines on what is trademarkable and what is not. Working with a competent trademark attorney from the start can give your brand the best possible chance of obtaining federal registration. Knowing what your trademark is and how it can be protected is critical.

Is your Trademark Available?

Before you spend precious time and capital on building your brand you need to complete a trademark clearance search, basically is your desired mark even available. The trademark clearance search is a critical step in the process that can save your company significant time, money, and headache down the road.  Verax Law recommends that a thorough trademark search be completed before any design work is completed. The coolest logo in the world is useless if you infringe on someone else’s mark and face potential litigation down the road.  A simple google search is an easy way to start this process, however you will want to consult with a trademark attorney to make sure all your bases are covered before investing significant time or money into a trademark.

Trademark Registration

If the trademark clearance shows no major red flags then the next step is to registering your mark with the USPTO.  The USPTO allows you to register your mark in each class for which you can show use in commerce, meaning you actually have to be using your mark on the goods you want to protect. However, as a start up you may want to start protecting your mark by filling an intent to use application and completing the process when you have actual use in commerce.  You also want to decide what classes you want to protect. The USPTO charges $225 per class, so getting too broad can get expensive fast. At Verax Law we recommend protecting your core products that generate income, don’t get overly optimistic with your desired uses of the mark.

If you are in the process of starting a craft brewery or distillery and would like to discuss management and protection of your brand please reach out to us any time, let us help you build a strong and lasting brand.



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