Craft Distiller seeking Tough Town trademark for its hand sanitizer takes on bullish craft brewer Kings & Convicts (yes, the one involved in buying Ballast Point) claiming sanitizer mark is barred by brewer’s Toughtown craft beer mark.

Apparently Teddy Roosevelt visited Highwood Illinois a century ago and called it one of the toughest towns in America or some such thing and the residents can’t let it go. Unlike “big apple” or “windy city” the trademark office didn’t catch that “tough” is a designation for Highwood and in applying for the trademark for craft beer, it doesn’t look like this fact was disclosed to make the trademark office aware of it.

The trademark owner, Hopmaniacs is affiliated with Kings & Convicts, the brewery that made headlines last year by being affiliated with that Ballast Point sale. The Kings & Convicts/Hopmaniacs attorneys send a cease and desist to a Highwood located craft vodka company 28 Mile Vodka after 28 Mile made headlines by making a “Tough Town” hand sanitizer and donating some to the Chicago Police Department. You can read the letter in the complaint filed by the 28 Mile Vodka Company here. It is not funny like the Dilly Dilly Budweiser message or friendly like the Jack Daniels trademark letter. (A big opportunity blown here to have a T.R. impersonator charge the distillery like it was San Juan Hill.) It also cites to a ton of irrelevant opinions from the trademark office about different alcoholic beverage being in the same channels of trade and comparable in a likelihood of confusion analysis. But this isn’t a battle between beverages.

Since it’s hand sanitizer and not a consumable liquor, 28 Mile filed for its own mark (you can read the compliant in the link above) and went ahead and beat Kings & Convicts to the punch and sued asking a court to declare that there is no likelihood of confusion given that hand sanitizer and beer fall into different channels of trade. No response has been filed yet.

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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