Lucasfilm Opposes “Empire Strikes Bock” Beer Trademark

By Joseph Mandour on November 21, 2014

beer-bottle-pouringSan Diego – Lucasfilm has filed a trademark opposition action against a small brewing company in Syracuse, N.Y. The brewing company in question is called Empire Brewing Company, named after the iconic Empire State Building in New York City. Recently, the brewery applied for a trademark for its signature German malt and hops lager called Empire Strikes Bock. Attorneys for George Lucas and Lucasfilm are claiming that the cleverly-named beer infringes on the company’s trademarks and could cause brand confusion among consumers.

This confusion refers to the Star Wars flick, “Empire Strikes Back.” But the brewery’s owner, David Katleski, says he’s calling the beer “Strikes Bock,” not “Empire Strikes Bock” even though the brewery has both trademark applications pending. It’s “Strikes Bock” by Empire, nothing more than clever wordplay, he insists. Lucasfilm is now a subsidiary of Disney.

“Strikes Bock” is not new. Empire has been serving it for the last seven years with no complaints from Lucasfilm. But recently Empire decided to expand its brewery to Cazenovia joining the state’s largest brewing company, which led it to apply for a trademark to protect their German bock lager, which has a faithful following.

But, in its opposition, Lucasfilm disagrees saying that trademark sought by the brewery is very similar to its “The Empire Strikes Back” trademark, which is widely recognized by consumers. The filing also states that Lucasfilm has had a long history of using such trademarks for food and beverages including wine. This increases the likelihood of confusion because consumers are used to seeing Star Wars trademarks on food and beverage products, the lawsuit states.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, after reviewing the application, approved the trademark on June 17, 2014. Lucasfilm apparently waited until the final day of the opposition period to oppose the Empire Strikes Bock Application. The Strikes Bock application was filed on October 6, 2014 and has not yet reached the opposition period.

Empire has stated that it does not have the “force” to battle powerful Lucasfilm, but the company recently filed a motion to dismiss the opposition.

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