Trademark Musings

Thoughts on trademark issues by Laura Winston

This Week in Alcohol TM Infringement Claims

Alcohol trademarks were big in the news this week.  While we kicked back cold ones and watched the World Cup finals, John Wayne’s estate, Duke University, a brewery and a DUI law firm were battling it out on the infringement pitch. 

Duke University’s lengthy alcohol policy, which of course expressly forbids those under 21 from possessing, purchasing or consuming alcoholic beverages, also contains a non-exhaustive list of unsafe and irresponsible behaviors, including consuming an excessive quantity in a short amount of time and participating in or facilitating drinking games or progressive parties.   Considering the concern Duke has over underage, unsafe and irresponsible drinking, it does not surprise me that Duke is objecting to use and registration of the trademark DUKE by the estate of John Wayne for alcoholic beverages.  John Wayne’s estate has now filed a Declaratory Judgment action in federal court in California, seeking a judgment from the court that it does not infringe Duke’s trademarks.  The estate’s complaint states that  “Duke University is not and never has been in the business of producing, marketing, distributing, or selling alcohol.” 

Meanwhile, away from Hollywood and academia, Full Sail Brewing, an Oregon craft beer company, has sued Sessions Law, an Atlanta law firm, after the law firm distributed brown paper beer can covers displaying a mark that is extremely similar to the label on Full Sail’s SESSIONS LAGER brand. Sessions Law is a DUI firm and, it could be said, somewhat of an enabler.  You can check out the two logos here.  



July 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment