Last Call: Anheuser-Busch Sued by Patagonia; Maryland Franchise Law, Modernization Bills Pass

Patagonia Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against A-B

Outdoor clothing maker Patagonia is suing Anheuser-Busch InBev, claiming the world’s largest beer manufacturers’ “Patagonia Brewing Co.” brand infringes on its trademarks, according to Law360.

In the case — filed in California federal court — Patagonia alleges that A-B is attempting to co-opt its 40-year-old apparel company’s brand and reputation, including making promises to plant a tree for every case of Patagonia beer sold as well as developing a “strikingly similar” logo that features a mountain silhouette, Law360 reported. The clothing company also took umbrage with A-B’s marketing efforts at Colorado ski resorts, where the beer company gave away its Patagonia branded clothing.

“In short, [Anheuser-Busch] has done everything possible to make it appear as though this Patagonia beer is sold by Patagonia,” the lawsuit said.

Patagonia launched its “Patagonia Provisions” food division in 2012, and released its first beer, Long Root Ale, in collaboration with Hopworks Urban Brewery in 2016. According to the clothing company’s lawsuit, A-B “fraudulently obtained” the trademark for “Patagonia” beer in 2012, and then sat on the trademark for six years.

Patagonia is attempting to block A-B from selling its “Patagonia” branded beer and is seeking damages.

This is the second high-profile lawsuit filed against A-B this year. MillerCoors filed a lawsuit in March claiming A-B’s Bud Light Super Bowl ads and subsequent “transparency” campaign were part of a “false and misleading advertising campaign” aimed at deceiving health-conscious consumers into believing Miller Lite and Coors Light are made with high-fructose corn syrup.

Stanford Study: Consumers More Negatively View Beer Made by Women

A study recently released by Stanford researchers suggests consumers more negatively view traditionally male-oriented products, including craft beer, when they are manufactured by women, Stanford Business reported.

“Our research suggests that customers don’t value and are less inclined to buy traditionally male products if they think they’ve been manufactured by women,” researcher Sarah A. Soule told the outlet. “There’s an assumption that your woman-made craft beer, screwdriver, or roof rack just won’t be as good.”

Soule and researchers Shelley J. Correll and Elise Tak asked 200 volunteers for their perceptions of beer labels with one difference — the labels featured the name of either a male or female brewer. According to the study, consumers said they would pay less money for beer made by a woman and they also had lower expectations for the taste and quality of a beer created by a woman.

“What we’re seeing here is that woman-made goods for sale in male-typed markets are being penalized for no reason other than the fact they are made by women,” Soule told the outlet.

However, the researchers found that the gender bias vanishes if the female-made product has won an award or if it’s being judged by people with expertise, such as “beer snobs.”

Maryland General Assembly Passes Modernization Act, Franchise Law Reform

The Maryland General Assembly has passed sweeping legislation to reform the state’s laws surrounding self-distribution, taproom sales and franchise agreements.

“These bills represent transformational change for the craft beer industry in Maryland and serve as a reminder that organized, persistent and thoughtful advocacy matters,” Brewers Association of Maryland Brad Rifkin said in a press release.

The Brewery Modernization Act of 2019 eliminates a buyback provision on direct-to-consumer sales at brewery taprooms and increases the cap on taproom sales from 3,000 barrels a year to 5,000 barrels. The legislation also increases the self-distribution limit from 3,000 barrels to 5,000 barrels annually for breweries holding a Class 7 “Limited Beer Wholesaler License.”

Additionally, the measure raises the annual production cap from 22,500 barrels to 45,000 barrels for those licensees, and allows them to operate a second outpost where they can sell an additional 5,000 barrels of beer annually on-site. Other provisions remove a tour requirement in order to sell beer for off-premise consumption. It also allows breweries to brew but not sell beer at an off-site location such as a warehouse.

Meanwhile, beginning in 2020, breweries producing fewer than 20,000 barrels a year will be able to terminate their wholesaler agreement without showing “cause” by giving 45 days notice, paying fair market value and repurchasing inventory from the wholesaler. Under the existing law, brewers must show good cause and give 180 days notice in order to terminate.

Beer Purchasers’ Index Expands in March

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) Beer Purchasers’ Index (BPI) — which helps explain U.S. beer distributors’ monthly buying behavior — expanded in March for the third consecutive month. The 53.8 reading was “well-above” March 2018’s index of 48.8, indicating NBWA members were placing more beer orders.

The FMB/PAB segment continued to make significant gains, with a “record-breaking index” of 78.2, up nearly 18 points from last year. Although cider’s 48.4 reading outpaced last March’s 36.4 index, the segment contracted after several months of expansion.

Orders of craft (54.6 index) and imports (62.5) expanded in March, while contraction continued for premium lights, premium regulars and below premiums, which posted lower readings than March 2018 levels.

MillerCoors Inks Integration Deal with Hulu

MillerCoors products will be featured in 10 episodes of four original programs on streaming TV service Hulu, according to AdWeek. Offerings from the second largest U.S. beer manufacturer will be featured during comedy series Ramy, horror film anthology Into the Dark, true crime docu-drama The Act and a reboot of Four Weddings and a Funeral, the outlet reported. MillerCoors has reportedly increased its spending on streaming services “between five and 10 times” this year.

Common Roots to Open Temporary Brewery and Taproom

Two weeks after a fire caused severe structural damage to Common Roots Brewing Company, the Glens Falls, New York-based craft brewery announced it has secured a temporary brewery and taproom location about two blocks from its original site. The new space is expected to open later this month. A GoFundMe for the brewery has raised more than $36,700 in 15 days.

Budweiser Pays Tribute to Dwayne Wade’s Philanthropic Efforts

More than 4 million YouTube viewers have watched a Budweiser tribute to retiring Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. The video, titled “This Bud’s for Three,” does not highlight Wade’s basketball career, but focuses on the lives he’s touched through his philanthropic endeavors and community outreach, including his mother.

A-B’s Budweiser brand has previously created similar tributes videos to retiring New York Yankee Derek Jeter, World Series Champion Chicago Cubs and broadcaster Harry Caray, among others.

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