On June 8, Verrill Dana attorney, Tawny Alvarez, will participate in a panel discussion entitled, “Brewing Up a Small Business: Legal Issues Affecting Maine’s Craft Breweries,” hosted by the Cumberland Bar Association at Preti Flaherty in Portland, Maine. Joining Tawny are Perkins Thompson attorney Christopher Dargie and Maine Beer Company founder Dan Kleban. The Maine Beer Company has grown from a one-barrel operation in 2009 to a nationally recognized brewery now in the process of its second major expansion in four years. (more…)
As purveyors of beverages containing alcohol, most craft brewers, distillers and wineries are aware of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax And Trade Bureau (“TTB”) rules for labels, and the sometimes onerous task involved in getting those labels approved. To avoid extra expenses and delays, those who are not aware of the TTB requirements need to quickly get up to speed on those rules or engage counsel who can guide you through the process. We cannot overstate the importance of following TTB rules, and making sure every label change conforms with the rules, including new approvals where necessary. The TTB takes the rules very seriously. So seriously that it annually conducts a random compliance investigation and publicly publishes the results of that investigation. (more…)
We talk a lot about the parameters of leave programs. New state laws that are popping up regularly that expand on employee leave rights. While we focus on the legal aspects of all leave laws, we do recognize the importance of having leave policies that work for the culture of your organization. Many companies in the United Kingdom are doing just that.
A Scotland-based craft beer company, BrewDog, is offering leave to employees welcoming new four-legged members into their family. BrewDog, a brewery started in Scotland that has since expanded internationally with over 1,000 employees is offering a week of paid “Pawternity” or “Mutternity” leave to any employee welcoming a new dog into their family. BrewDog has found enough success with the program in the United Kingdom that they are now instituting the policy in the United States. (more…)
Multiple New England breweries in the last week have made the difficult decision to no longer permit four-legged friends within tasting rooms. This article provides absolutely no opinion on those decisions—they are difficult decisions that are personal to the breweries. If, however, you own, manage, or are simply employed by a bar, brewery, or other establishment that has made the decision to no longer permit four-legged friends, understanding what your responsibilities are in allowing service animals on the property is paramount.
The media has hyped up pigs on planes, emotional support turkeys, miniature horses—but understanding what must and need not be accommodated under federal public accommodation laws is important. Understanding what qualifies as a service animal, as well as what federal requirements permit and prohibit, is necessary to know your rights and responsibilities under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (more…)
Brewers Association Marketing and Advertising Code Update: A beer by any other name doth taste as hoppy
Coming up with the recipe for your new brew is only half the battle, you also have to come up with a creative name and label. While we’ve discussed protecting your brand through trademarks in previous posts, brewers should also be aware of the revised Brewers Association Marketing and Advertising Code. In an article for Craft Brewing Business, attorney Jonathan Dunitz discusses recent amendments to the Code that aim to avoid the use of potentially offensive names and labels and advance the Association’s goal of increasing diversity in the craft beer industry. While the Code’s limitations on offensive content are new, the issue dates back much further with varying viewpoints on the issue. (more…)
In this episode of Verrill Voices: What’s Brewing in Real Estate Development, Spencer Thibodeau interviews Chris Thompson, one of the real estate developers involved in the Thompson’s Point development in Portland, Maine. Spencer and Chris discuss the history of the ongoing Thompson’s Point development project and what may lie ahead while enjoying a delicious glass of “The Substance Ale” at Bissell Brothers Taproom, one of the flagship tenants at Thompson’s Point. (more…)
In a presentation for The Risk Management Association Young Professionals Group, Austin Street Brewery Owner Will Fisher; GHM Insurance Agency’s James Sanborn; TD Bank Relationship Manager Shauna Miller; and Verrill Dana Attorney Tawny Alvarez, gathered at Austin Street Brewery on its 3rd Anniversary to provide an overview of the craft brewing industry. Some key takeaways for approaching risk management as a brewery owner are outlined below. (more…)
With the craft beer industry continuing to gain momentum, it becomes increasingly more difficult to come up with creative and unique beer and brewery names, as well as to ensure your recipes, people and logos remain your own.
In an article for Craft Brewing Business, Verrill Dana attorney Kelly Donahue, cautions breweries to beware of beer names that reference famous trademarks. As nearly 5,400 trademark applications containing the term “beer” were filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 2016, up more than 23% from the previous year, brand owners are looking to protect their valuable trademarks. In the article, Kelly discusses oppositions involving breweries and famous trademarks, such as “Malterial Girl” and “Golden Ticket.”
In another article for the premier issue of CraftBrand & Marketing magazine, Verrill Dana attorney Tawny Alvarez takes the concept of protecting your brand a step further in that your people are a vital component to your brand. (more…)
Kayla Kraft (no known relation to the cheese people) found herself on a Natural Light coaster with a fake handlebar mustache drinking a beer under the heading “Every Natty Has a Story.” She apparently didn’t like that story and just sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.
According to the complaint, in 2013 Kraft’s friend Kathyrn Belasco snapped the mustachioed photo of her using Kraft’s phone. Kraft then posted the photo on Facebook. Three years later, Belasco assigned all of her rights to the photo to Kraft.
News reports say that the photo was submitted to Natural Light’s Facebook page as part of the “Natty Rewards” contest run in 2014 by Anheuser-Busch where contestants were asked to submit a photo of themselves “acting natural.” (Unknown whether drinking beer with a fake mustache was Ms. Kraft’s natural state.) Rules are here. The Rules provide that photos submitted are the original work of the entrant and do not infringe upon anyone’s copyright or publicity rights. The Rules also grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the photo in any and all media for any purpose. Basically, the Rules say everything that’s typical for a UGC contest.
The Complaint doesn’t mention the contest, but does allege that the photo has been used as part of Natural Light’s “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign without Kraft’s or Belasco’s consent. Anheuser-Busch has not yet answered the Complaint. (more…)
As brewers and residents of Maine, whose state animal after all is a moose, this recent Bangor Daily News article about a large Canadian corporation chasing U.S. brewers with a trademark for “moose” is cause for concern. I know from my dealings with Maine brewers that potential disputes over product names are usually resolved peacefully and respectfully, but keep in mind that there are other, larger companies beyond our borders who don’t necessarily take the same approach. (more…)