Launched a few months ago, it’s called the bowtie can, because it appears to emulate Budweiser’s well-known bowtie brand icon, but the formal description of the Anheuser-Busch beer can at the USPTO is a bit more clumsy and technical:

“The mark consists of packaging for the goods, namely, beverage package for the goods consisting of a three dimensional shape of a beverage package that is generally cylindrical in shape but where the sides of the package are indented approaching the center of the package with a curve at the bottom of the sides of the can design.”

Here is a link to the black/white drawing of the mark. The application claims ownership of these related registrations: U.S. Reg. Nos. 1544754, 3757001, and 4144329, all bowtie related marks, so it is curious that the formal description of the mark does not reference the relationship to this recognized and inherently distinctive trademark shape.

The beer can shape initially was approved as a non-traditional trademark for publication at the USPTO, but as of a few weeks ago, the application was “returned to the Examining Attorney for further review,” so stay tuned on how this one turns out.

Speaking of beer containers, with the substantial investment of advertising dollars in promoting the New Miller Lite Beer Bottle (voluminous billboard and television ads), I would have expected MillerCoors to seek registration of the bottle shape as a trademark, but my search for any pending application came up dry. Do you suppose this has anything to do with the fact that the new bottle design apparently “adds a contoured grip to make it easier to hold“?

Or perhaps this YouTube video didn’t help either, in which consumers comment on the “new look” of the “toned up” Miller Lite bottle as “awesome,” “unique and innovative,” “sexy and sleek,” and “re-energizing of the brand” — all good so far, but then unfortunately, the arguably functional comments about the improved “grip” were not edited. Some things are better left unsaid (if one wants to preserve non-traditional trademark protection), as we’ve said before.

Although I haven’t handled Budweiser’s bowtie can yet, I’m thinking it’s probably easier to grip too, but no point going there if you’re Anheuser-Busch, why risk the danger of making grip a selling point, especially if you want to keep your non-traditional trademark options open?

Although I haven’t seen the ads in question, one blogger wrote back in May about the bowtie cans: “They are, as advertised, ‘easy to grip,’ with a good feel in your hand.” And, surprisingly Anhuser-Busch references grip as a selling point in this press release:

“This can is certainly a conversation starter: eye-catching, easy-to-grip, trendy and – according to our research – very appealing to young adults,” McGauley said.  “It’s a beer can like no other.”

So, stay tuned to see whether a functionality refusal rears a clydesdale’s head at the USPTO, upon “further review.”