Trademark Infringement Claim Against Anheuser-Busch Keeps on Brewing

DSLR picture POV of a man relaxing near a lake on a beautiful day of autumn season. There is coloured mountains in background and the lake is calm. The man is holding a beer bottle.
By Laura Temme, Esq. on September 10, 2019 12:30 PM

A trademark infringement lawsuit by conservationist outdoor brand Patagonia maneuvered a significant roadblock last week when a Los Angeles judge denied motions to dismiss by defendant Anheuser-Busch. Patagonia filed suit in April, alleging the branding of Anheuser-Busch’s “Cerveza Patagonia” beer capitalizes on their 40-year reputation as a company dedicated to environmental conservation.

Anheuser-Busch motioned to dismiss five of the eight causes of action in Patagonia’s complaint, arguing that Patagonia’s brand was not famous or widely used enough to warrant protection.

I guess they aren’t outdoorsy types.

Questionable Marketing

In 2018, Anheuser-Busch reportedly began promoting Cerveza Patagonia in Colorado by setting up booths at ski resorts. According to the complaint, Anheuser-Busch employees at these events wore black down jackets bearing a logo for Patagonia Cerveza that looks suspiciously like the outdoor brand’s logo. They also used booths made of reclaimed wood and told customers Anheuser-Busch would plant a tree for every case of beer purchased. Patagonia argues Anheuser-Busch has “done everything possible” to connect Cerveza Patagonia to the outdoor brand’s conservationist reputation.

Will Patagonia Cerveza Confuse Consumers?

Although the logos use different fonts - Anheuser-Busch puts “Patagonia” in all caps while Patagonia’s trademark is in small caps - the mountain silhouette above the lettering could lead a consumer to believe they are connected. Plus, as Patagonia argues, Patagonia sells ski apparel – which would likely be widely used and recognized at a Colorado ski resort.

On the other hand, the word “Patagonia” also refers to a region of South America that includes the southern portion of the Andes Mountains. As a result, it’s possible Anheuser-Busch will argue that Patagonia cannot claim the word in connection to a picture of a mountain.

The Plot Thickens

What might be news to many is that Patagonia does already have its own beer – Long Root Ale. However, the trademark for “Patagonia” beer has been tied up since 2006 because of applications by (you guessed it): Anheuser-Busch. The beer giant finally obtained the mark for Patagonia beer in 2012 but waited until 2018 to use it.

Patagonia claims that not only did Anheuser-Busch submit false evidence to the Trademark Office to obtain the Patagonia mark for beer, but also created a fictitious business called Patagonia Brewing Company so that it could refer to itself as “Patagonia.”

Patagonia has asked the Central District of California to order the cancellation of Anheuser-Busch’s trademark as well as award lost profits and punitive damages.

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