Who Moved My Beer? (Part 1) - IP Blog
August 03, 2016

Authored by Griffin Lee

Part I – What’s in a Name?

What do you do when, after growing as a craft brewery for 11 years, you file for a trademark to protect your name… and get denied? That’s exactly what happened to [LAST NAME] Brewing (formerly Dale Bros. Brewery).

Brothers Curt and Andy Dale started [LAST NAME] Brewing in Upland, California in 2003. In 2014, they filed trademark applications for “Dale Bros. Brewery” and “Dale Bros” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

A few months later, the USPTO rejected the marks based on a likelihood of confusion with prior registered marks.

This could have been a death blow to Dale Bros. Brewery; after all, this was the name they used to grow their business and which their customer base had identified with the beer.

Instead of treating this experience as a death blow, they used it as a marketing opportunity. With the help of marketing firm Echo-Factory the Dales changed the name of the business to [LAST NAME] Brewery.

These types of situations are more common than people realize. Thankfully, their creative solution has been well-received by the community.

Down, But Not Out

Just because the name of your brand changes does not mean it has to be the end of your company. [LAST NAME] Brewery and their strategy is an example of successful rebranding.

The marketing team identified three goals, first and foremost the need for a unique name that could be trademarked, present an easy transition from the previous brand, and retain the brand equity of company’s personality.

A campaign was devised to superimpose a “Hello, My Name Is _____________” sticker over their logo on their billboards, coasters, social media and tap room to start a conversation about what the change might be.

Social media updates followed with witty teasers like: “Something’s Brewing….” and “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes!” Karen McMillen, the brewery’s director of marketing said, “The goal was to pique interest and poke fun at the mysteriousness of it all.”

The campaign ended with a party at the brewery to reveal the new name: [LAST NAME] Brewing. “It’s a bit early to tell what the lasting impact will be, but we definitely saw a significant uptick in people following our social media accounts, and in our sales for the month of May,” said McMillen.

Costs of Rebranding

Although the [LAST NAME] Brewing experience was a success for the company; a lot of effort, time and money went into the rebranding. In short, this is a situation you want to avoid.

If you have to rebrand, you may have to change your name and logo. You may have to change your online presence such as your domain name, Twitter page, Facebook page, Instagram account and you may have to completely redesign your website.

You may have to pull old products from distribution, destroy old merchandise, and be required to supply new merchandise without additional charge. You may also have to update business information and registration with different entities like the Secretary of State. Plus, you would have to notify all your retailers and distributors of the name change.

Additionally, there may be liability for damages if another company files a claim against you for infringement along with attorneys’ fees. In order to avoid this situation, there are several items you should consider, including consultation with an Intellectual Property attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of trademark law.

To be continued…