Brewing Companies In Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Over 1919 Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on August 6, 2012

beer-bottle-pouring-200x132Los Angeles – Though the two companies produce two different types of beverages, the New Ulm Brewing & Beverage Company announced this week that it is suing the Krebs Brewing Company for trademark infringement and unfair competition. New Ulm, a soft drink company, has made its famous 1919 Draft Root Beer for the August Schell Brewing Company for over 25 years. The Minnesota soft drink company did not register the 1919 name for use with carbonated soft drinks until 2001. However, the root beer brewer began using the name as far back as 1987. The 1919 logo with red, black and white color scheme was so named in remembrance of the year when prohibition forced many breweries out of business.

The Krebs Brewing Company makes an ale style beer, also named after the year 1919, which New Ulm Brewing claims is confusingly similar to its own 1919 product. Despite the obvious difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, New Ulm noted in its court documents that the two beverages are routinely sold in the same retail locations. Consequently, it is easy for consumers to see the two products together and find the comparison somewhat confusing. The two companies exchanged letters earlier in the year over the use of the 1919 label on respective beverages. However, when Krebs refused to comply with New Ulm’s cease and desist request, New Ulm decided that a lawsuit was in order.

Additionally, New Ulm Brewing offers its root beer on draft pull taps next to beers in restaurants and bars. The brewing company intends for its products to be distributed to discerning consumers like fine crafted beers. The pending lawsuit was filed in Minnesota District Court and should be decided later this year.

Krebs attempted to trademark 1919 for use with alcoholic beverages in 2010, but later abandoned the attempt when it was determined that a separate wine company already registered a similar trademark.

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