There are only so many words in the English language. As anyone who pays close attention to the beer industry is acutely aware, this fact seems to rear its head constantly in the form of trademark disputes, when one company alleges that another’s brand or product inspires market confusion between the two.
The latest example pits one of the world’s true brewing behemoths against a comparatively anonymous craft brewery in North Carolina, as Anheuser-Busch InBev has filed an opposition to a trademark application submitted by Natty Greene’s Brewing Co.
In preparation for expanded distribution, the Greensboro, N.C.-based brewery filed an application to trademark the phrase “Natty Greene’s” last August, according to the Triangle Business Journal.
“We own the company; we wanted to own the name,” Natty Greene’s co-founder Kayne Fisher told the paper.
A-B InBev claims that the “Natty” nickname is already well established — and trademarked — as an A-B brand associated with its Natural Light products. According to the article, the company trademarked the phrases “Natty Light,” “Natty Fatty,” and “Natty Daddy” in 1999, 2011, and 2012 respectively.
Natty Greene’s, which is named after Revolutionary war general Nathanael Greene, has maintained that consumers won’t confuse its products with A-B’s “Natty” line.
“I don’t think anybody’s confusing Natty Greene’s with an Anheuser-Busch brand,” Fisher told the website. “It’s Natty Greene’s Buckshot Amber Ale, and it’s Natty Greene’s Southern Pale Ale. We just wanted to protect it.”
Natty Greene’s must respond to the trial and appeal board of the patent office by July 28, according to the Triangle Business Journal.
Another one of A-B’s brands made headlines this week, though for less contentious reasons.
The Chicago Business Journal is reporting that Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co., which was acquired by A-B InBev in 2011, could be entering a partnership with United Airlines.
Airline officials declined to comment on whether the company would soon carry Goose Island products on continental flights or if the two companies were working to create any other kind of long-term partnership. Goose Island and United are, however, co-hosting an event at the Goose Island brewery this Friday and plan to “make a special announcement.”
As the article notes, the brewery already has ties to the airline via its Goose Island dining establishments inside of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Meanwhile, specialty grocer Whole Foods Market continues to latch onto the popularity of craft beer and will debut a new market in Houston today, complete with a wine and beer bar featuring 16 tap handles, according to the Houston Business Journal.
But that’s not all. Whole Foods also has plans to construct a market and in-house brewery at BLVD Place, an upscale, mixed-use development project in uptown Houston.
Out west in San Diego, KPBS is reporting that the city council has “unanimously approved a package of incentives that will help San Diego craft brewers Ballast Point and AleSmith move into larger manufacturing plants.”
The deal will help to offset many of the fees that craft breweries incur when building new manufacturing facilities, the article said. Ballast Point and AleSmith will have fees of $160,000 and $175,000 respectively, reimbursed, per the incentive plan.
“This is a thriving industry for San Diego—it’s part of the innovation economy,” Councilman Mark Kersey told the website. “This is a key export for our region.”
City officials also cited the job creation aspect as one of the driving factors of the vote, claiming the two companies will add a combined 125 positions, with each project also employing 25 construction workers for a year.
Lastly, a much more unfortunate story out of Asheville, N.C.
The Lexington Avenue Brewery hosted a heavy metal show on Sunday, that ended disastrously when the band Young and in the Way allegedly drenched the place with pig’s blood.
Thankfully, the Buncombe County Health Department said there is no public health risk and the brewery will not need a re-inspection in order to reopen, according to a Citizen Times report.
That said, brewery co-owner Mike Healy said the damage is such that the company may have to rip out the stage.
“It’s a very dire situation,” he told the website.
But, really, what’s a heavy metal show without a little pig’s blood?