Craft Brewers Are Running Out Of Names, And Into Legal Spats

beer-final_wide-f27ca638d8cc312bd41c4b0de847264b286a01f5-s800-c85Columbia? Taken. Mississippi? Taken. Sacramento? El Niño? Marlin? Grizzly? Sorry, they’re all taken.

Virtually every large city, notable landscape feature, creature and weather pattern of North America — as well as myriad other words, concepts and images — has been snapped up and trademarked as the name of either a brewery or a beer. For newcomers to the increasingly crowded industry of more than 3,000 breweries, finding names for beers, or even themselves, is increasingly hard to do without risking a legal fight.

Candace Moon, aka The Craft Beer Attorney, is a San Diego lawyer who specializes in helping brewers trademark ideas and also settle disputes. Moon tells The Salt she has never seen a brewery intentionally infringe upon another’s trademarked name, image or font style. Yet, with tens of thousands of brands in the American beer market, it happens all the time.

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