TTB’s Chicagoland notices about wholesalers’ violations of trade practices and other statutes pose some interesting questions

Two recent announcements from the United States Department of Treasury’s Tax and Trade Bureau show that the TTB’s ongoing enforcement actions in the Chicagoland area are producing results.

The first is the recent case of Skokie Valley, where it apparently started selling its brands before the TTB announced a related trade investigation into other practices had uncovered that Skokie Valley did not hold a valid permit.

What’s interesting about the Skokie Valley enforcement is that about a month before the TTB reported it was revoking the license, the Chicago Tribune reported that Skokie Valley was closing and selling brand rights to other distributors. Given that most beer wholesaler agreements and Illinois’ Beer Industry Fair Dealing Act allow a brewer to terminate an agreement without notice if a wholesaler loses its license, one wonders if the brewers were informed that they might be in a position to terminate their agreements and potentially reclaim rights prior to the brand transfers – whether Skokie Valley knew it was the subject of an investigation at the time the sales of the brands were going on and whether it informed the brewers of that fact before asking/selling the brands to other distributors.

The second came out on Friday reporting that the TTB had accepted a $325,000.00 offer in compromise from Elgin Beverage Co., in connection with alleged tied house violations such as paying money to a retailer to promote the wholesaler’s distributed beers over others’. One wonders if this was even to the detriment of its own craft brands such that they may have been impacted by the alleged activities.

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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