BNA Wine Group Battles Anheuser-Busch For Airport Code Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on June 29, 2012

beer-bottle-pouring-200x132Los Angeles – Last week, Anheuser-Busch announced that it filed a trademark application for BNA which is the airport code for the Nashville Airport. Anheuser-Busch filed for “BNA” along with 41 other airport codes. However, Nashville winery BNA Wine Group insists that it has superior rights to the trademark “BNA” and filed before Anheuser-Busch. The fact that two companies plan to utilize the same trademark is not necessarily a problem in itself. However, because both parties intend to name alcoholic beverages after the airport code and distribute those products in the same area, it is anticipated that problems will ensue for one or both parties.

Although there is a chance that both groups could obtain rights to the trademark “BNA”, it is highly unlikely. Despite the fact that beer and wine are obviously two different beverages, both companies are in the business of selling alcohol and there is not a significant division between the core business and distribution of the two companies. Consequently, if Anheuser-Busch produced an alcoholic beverage with the same name as a wine produced by the BNA Wine Group, it would likely cause confusion with consumers and distributors. Such confusion is adequate grounds for USPTO denial of trademark registration for one or both parties.

Regardless of the potential confusion, It is likely that the USPTO will suspend action on the Anheuser-Busch trademark application until the registration for BNA Wine Group is complete.

Last year Anheuser-Busch also registered 14 area codes with the USPTO, including “615”, an area code in Nashville. The move was part of a plan to cash in on the popularity of locally labeled beers and microbrews produced by hometown breweries. As part of this plan, Anheuser purchased Goose Island Brewery in Chicago last year and noted tremendous success with its locally produced 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Anheuser-Busch anticipates the same success with the BNA labeled beer if and when it is allowed to register the trademark.

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