Press Clips: Beer Rationing Begins in Europe; Trademark Infringement Fights Continue

Carbon Dioxide Shortage Causes Beer Rationing in Europe

A shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2) in Europe has led Booker Ltd, the United Kingdom’s largest wholesaler, to begin rationing beer and cider, according to The Guardian.

Booker — which sells to bars, restaurants and convenience stores — began rationing the beverages on Tuesday, limiting customers to 10 cases of beer and five cases of cider per day, the outlet reported.

According to The Guardian, the shortages are being caused by increased summer demand as well as the scheduled maintenance shutdowns of European ammonia and bioethanol plants.

A spokesperson for Heineken issued a statement saying the world’s second largest beer company has been affected by the shortage and continues “to work hard to resolve this issue as quickly as possible within our European supply base” as well as with its customers to “minimize disruption to their business.”

TailGate Beer Files Trademark Lawsuit Against Boulevard

Nashville-based TailGate Beer is accusing Kansas City-headquartered Boulevard Brewing of trademark infringement, according to the Nashville Business Journal. The case was first noted on Twitter by Brendan Palfreyman, a partner with the Harris Beach law firm in New York and creator of the website Trademark Your Beer.

In the lawsuit, TailGate claims that Boulevard’s use of the image of a pickup truck on its 2015 rebranded Pale Ale labels violated its mark and could cause confusion among consumers. TailGate has filed for an injunction to block Boulevard’s use of the image and is also seeking damages and attorneys’ fees.

“In using the iconic truck with the tailgate lowered to represent its beer, it is clear that defendants seek to mislead consumers about the source of Boulevard Beer and in doing so, free ride off of plaintiff’s goodwill that has been developed for over a decade,” TailGate’s complaint reads.

However, Boulevard Brewing vice president of marketing Natalie Gershon told the Nashville Post that the image is a tribute to founder John McDonald, who delivered the first barrel of Pale Ale in his pickup truck nearly 29 years ago.

“It’s part of our story and a few years back we chose to commemorate that,” she told the Post. “We never intended to appropriate anyone else’s intellectual property.”

Of note, Boulevard began shipping its beer to Tennessee in May 2017.

Judge Rejects Shipyard Trademark Lawsuit Against Logboat

A federal judge has tossed out Portland, Maine-headquartered Shipyard Brewing Company’s trademark infringement lawsuit against Missouri-based Logboat Brewing Co., according to the Press Herald.

Shipyard had contended that Logboat’s “Shiphead” ginger wheat beer could be mistaken for a Shipyard product since it makes beers called “Pumpkinhead,” “Melonhead” and “Applehead.”

However, federal judge Nanette K. Laughrey rejected the notion that the two products would be confused.

“The only real similarity between Shipyard and Shiphead Ginger Wheat is the term ‘ship,’ and Shipyard has admitted that ‘ship’ is a generic term, not subject to trademark protection,” Laughrey wrote in her ruling.

Cloudwater, Modern Times Pull Out of Beavertown Festival

Beavertown Brewery is now experiencing blowback after selling a minority stake to Heineken International B.V. last week. England’s Cloudwater Brew Co. and San Diego’s Modern Times have both pulled out of the Beavertown Extravaganza beer festival, which is scheduled for September 7-8.

“Our decision to withdraw is based at its core on us standing up for independence, and standing against disturbing corporate tactics employed by big beer that should never have any place in craft beer,” Cloudwater explained in a blog post.

Modern Times followed, announcing via Twitter: “Independence matters. You don’t get to play this game on ‘easy’ mode & still benefit from the hard work of indy brewers.”

The fallout is reminiscent of last year’s Wicked Weed sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev, when several craft breweries boycotted the North Carolina Brewery’s Funkatorium Invitational following the acquisition. Wicked Weed eventually canceled the fest.

North Carolina Distribution Reforms Become Law

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has allowed House Bill 500 to become law without signing the bill. In an email sent to North Carolina Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association members, executive director Tim Kent said the new law puts beverage alcohol wholesalers “in a much better position to determine how, when and to whom their business will be sold.”

“Large suppliers will no longer be allowed to ‘match and re-direct’ their beverage franchise to a distributor of the supplier’s choice,” he wrote. “Franchise buyers must still be qualified and approved. An exception will be made for individual suppliers who make up 5% or less of a wholesaler’s beer and wine portfolio in terms of gross annual sales.”

Additionally, owners of distribution companies will now be allowed to transfer interest in their company while they’re still living to a family member. Kent added that beer suppliers will also no longer be allowed “to acquire, possess or maintain ownership of a wholesaler business. That means no special financing arrangements provided by the supplier.”

Capitol City Brewing Files for Bankruptcy

Washington, D.C.-based Capitol City Brewing Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month, according to the Washington Business Journal. The company had already shuttered its brewpub in Shirlington, Virginia, where it was producing its beer. The company plans to continue producing its core offerings under contract at an unnamed manufacturer.

Capital City will also maintain its location in Washington, D.C., which owner David von Storch told the Business Journal that he is “committed” to funding. According to the report, Capitol City’s largest creditor is Sysco, and its assets and liabilities are between $500,000 and $1 million.

New Massachusetts Brewery For Sale Prior to Opening

Walden Woods Brewing — which was slated to open in Marlborough, Massachusetts, sometime this year — is up for sale before serving its first pint, according to MassLive.com.

Charles Gadbois of Wellen Construction, which owns the building, told the outlet that he is searching for an upstart brewer to take over the space, which is “fully operational” but needs “some permitting and licensing.”

In a June 8 Facebook post, the owners of Walden Woods announced that their brewery wouldn’t open as planned.

“It is with unspeakable sadness that we have to announce Walden Woods Brewing will not open for business,” Alida Orzechowski and Chris Brown wrote. “We would like the entire community to know how hard we fought to save our vision — this little brewery — but in the end, the battle was lost.”

Orzechowski and Brown did not offer an explanation for abandoning the brewery project.

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