Website Fan Reviews And Product Descriptions Can Play an Important Role In The Decision to Grant You a Trademark

The folks over at Bourgogne Des Flandres can breathe a little easier after this decision from the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board reversed the Trademark Examining Attorney’s refusal to register their trademark on the grounds that it is generic an incapable of identifying their beer and therefore should be registered under 15 U.S.C. 1091(c).

Essentially, you can’t register a trademark that would be a generic term for the beverage you are looking to register, so a beer called a California Common or a wine called Pinot Gris or a whiskey called Kentucky Bourbon would likely not receive trademark approval.

In this case, Bourgogne applied for registration and was rejected because the name translates to Burgundy of Flanders, which the examining attorney found was a name that referred to a type of beer that is a “typical and common beer in West Flanders.”

The Appeal Board disagreed.  What’s important is the extent to which the Board and the examining attorney performed online investigations into whether the name was really a generic term or whether the beer drinking public understood it to be a brand of beer (like we all do) that’s been around since 1911.

The opinion lists the plethora of websites consulted in determining that Bourgogne Des Flandres was a brand and not generally understood as a “type” of beer, including:

Many of these websites are quoted or excerpted from for the Board’s general proposition that Bourgogne is generally understood as a brand of Flanders Red and not as another name for a Flanders Red.  So pay attention to your reviews and websites describing what you’re peddling because they could end up as an authoritative source in any attempt to protect your brand.

Ashley Brandt

Hi there! I’m happy you’re here. My name is Ashley Brandt and I’m an attorney in Chicago representing clients in the Food and Beverage, Advertising, Media, and Real Estate industries. A while back I kept getting calls and questions from industry professionals and attorneys looking for advice and information on a fun and unique area of law that I’m lucky enough to practice in. These calls represented a serious lack of, and need for, some answers, news, and information on the legal aspects of marketing and media. I've got this deep seeded belief that information should be readily available and that the greatest benefit from the information age is open access to knowledge... so ... this blog seemed like the best way to accomplish that. I enjoy being an attorney and it’s given me some amazing opportunities, wonderful experiences, and an appreciation and love for this work. I live in Chicago and work at an exceptional law firm, Goldstein & McClintock, with some truly brilliant people. Feel free to contact me at any time with any issues, comments, concerns… frankly, after reading this far, I hope you take the time to at least let me know what you think about the blog and how I can make it a better resource.

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