The beer industry is rife with trademark legal issues. We’ve discussed quite a few here, including disputes over brewery names, attempts to register as a trademark the design of a beer glass, or the longstanding issue of whether all alcoholic products are related for likelihood of confusion purposes.
Because of the importance of the beer industry in the trademark world, I am required to purchase and sample the numerous offerings of the local breweries here in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Last weekend, while on one of these work-related trips, something caught my eye at the store:
These “singles” – also known as “bombers” – are 22 ounce bottles that are popular among smaller breweries.
For those who grew up in households of organic and unprocessed foods, the refrigerator plays off of the classic cheese slices shown below:
Funny, I don’t remember my parents making me “grilled cheese product sandwiches,” but apparently, that’s what they were.
The use appears to be a parody of the Craft Singles brand. While parody isn’t a defense to trademark, it is another way of saying that there is no likelihood of confusion. We’ve discussed other potential parodies here, such as the Subway parody of ZOMBIES eat flesh, Verizon’s parody of the De Beers shadow commercials, and others.
The analysis for a parody is largely the same as any other product: is the use of the mark likely to create confusion or mistake as to the source, sponsorship, or some other connection with the owner of the other mark. Although the marks are essentially identical, the goods appear unrelated. I am unaware of any evidence that consumers are apt to presume that beer and cheese, sorry, cheese product, emanate from the same source. Well, other than beer cheese soup as a “complementary use. ”
What do you think, effective parody? Cause for Kraft’s concern? Or do you just really want a beer and a grilled cheese right now?