The City Steam Brewery Cafe in Hartford, Connecticut recently agreed to resolve a lawsuit with Anchor Brewing in California by changing the name of its beer. According to the lawsuit, Anchor Brewing claimed that City Steam was infringing on their trademark by naming their product, City Steam beer. Anchor claims that they have been selling its brand named Anchor Steam Beer for well over 85 years, and had the name trademarked in 1980.
The Connecticut based City Steam Brewery has been selling its City Steam beer since 1998 and refused to allow Anchor Brewing to strip it of its name. The Connecticut company agreed to change the name of its beer to “Citysteam,” but would not relinquish the name of their restaurant, The City Steam Brewery Cafe. Defense lawyers stated that the compromise is a win for their client.
According to a recent article on HartfordBusiness.com, the recent surge of newcomers in the craft beer market are running into lots of legal woes, especially regarding trademarks. Most small brewers are mainly interested in getting their beer exposure in the overcrowded market, so they don’t take the time or money to trademark their brand. Once their beer begins to gain recognition and its market increases, the bigger, established brewers challenge the newcomer with trademark litigation concerning brand confusion. The recent case between City Steam and Anchor Brewing is expected to set a new precedent for prior ownership cases regarding trademarks.
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