Brewery refused trademark that had already been granted for Wine

According to a recent decision made by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) it may no longer be possible to register a trademark for a beer brand if it has already registered for wine or vice versa as it could cause confusion for consumers in the marketplace.

Uinta Brewing Company, an American beer company, recently applied for a trademark for the word ‘Duo’ but their application was rejected by the USPTO since a trademark for wine already existed under that name. This decision was then repeated by the TTAB.

According to The World IP Review, in their defense the American brewery claimed that despite the fact that the goods both fall into the alcohol category, they can be sold into different marketplaces. They also used the USPTO’s trademark database to prove that in the US only 0.27% of alcohol trademarks were for both wine and beer, therefore the likelihood of consumer confusion should be minimal.

However, after showing a number of examples of companies that have trademarks for both goods (including trademark registrations and websites)  Margaret Power, the examining attorney for this case, ruled that the use of a trademark name for both wine and beer would indicate to a consumer that the goods are from the same source. Therefore the brewery’s mark could not be registered as it would cause consumer confusion.

Despite the fact that beer and wine appear under separate trademark classes (classes 32 and 33 respectively) this ruling suggests that in the future, companies that wish to file a trademark application for either of these goods should complete a thorough trademark search in both categories before deciding on their trademark name. This will reduce the likelihood of a case of infringement occurring across both categories and may therefore save the company time and money in the future.  

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