May 03

Nevada Case Questions How Egregious Distributor Behavior Has To Be To Amount To Good Cause For Termination of Franchise Rights

Franchise laws enslaving brewers to distributors often have vaguely worded “good cause” terms allowing a brewer to terminate a relationship when this beneficently named justification exists. A frequent criticism of these statutes is that when a distributor has acted in a fashion that would allow for termination under regular contract principles, these laws force brewers […]

April 28

Will Lee v. Tam End The TTB’s Censorship of Beer Wine and Spirits Labels Found Obscene or Indecent?

As the US awaits a verdict in Lee v. Tam – a trademark dispute challenging a section of the trademark act (15 U.S.C. 1052(a)) refusing trademark registration for marks that are deemed immoral or scandalous, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s implementation and application of those restrictions – it would benefit us to be […]

April 24

Millercoors Wins “Not From Australia” Lawsuit Over Claims That Foster’s Marketing Misleads Drinkers

In one of latest wins for brewers against deceptive labeling lawsuits brought against domestically made beers over branding that arguably conveys they are imported, Millercoors has scored a win for its Foster’s brand against a putative class action looking to cash in against the company.  The lawsuit (you can read the amended complaint here) alleged that […]

April 14

North Carolina Proposes Some Common-Sense Amendments to Modernize Its Brewing Laws That Advance Rights for Craft Brewers In the Face of Changing Times

Jim Koch (of Boston Beer fame) wrote an excellent polemic for the New York Times last week questioning some American attitudes towards beer.  A salient point from that article was that many state distribution laws developed over time from the end of prohibition and haven’t been updated since the 1970’s.  These distribution statutes were created […]

April 10

Arguing With the Trademark Office Over Wine? – La Finca Wine Trademark Decision Provides Interesting Lessons Regarding Acceptable Source Material

The TTAB (Trademark Trial and Appeal Board) recently affirmed the decision from the USPTO refusing to register the mark “La Finca” for wines on the basis that the vintner didn’t demonstrate that the brand had acquired distinctiveness since the translation of the term is “the estate” or “the farm” which is descriptive for wines.  You […]

March 31

Havana Club Dispute Back In The Spotlight After Congressional Reps Ask For Administration To Undo Predecessor’s Ruling

The latest turn in a decades long fight over control of the Havana Club trademark for rum came from the Capitol this week.  Congressional leaders from Florida (home of Bacardi’s U.S. headquarters) have sent a letter to the new administration asking for the repeal of an Obama administration decision to allow Cubaexport, the Cuban company […]

March 30

Online Wine Retailer Wins Case Against False Claims Assertions Over Failure to Collect Local Taxes For Sales

In a recent win for online wine retailers (not wineries selling direct), the Illinois appellate court has upheld the dismissal of an action against online wine retailer Winetasting.com alleging it violated Illinois’ False Claims Act (740 ILCS 175) in failing to collect and pay the local retailer’s occupation tax for the municipality where the wine […]

March 29

Example Agreements: Spirits Manufacturing Agreement (Licensing) – Contract Distilling With Enhanced “Flash” Aging

This recent dispute between a distiller and a company looking to contract manufacture a whiskey called Rattleback Rye has resulted in an opinion from a federal district court in South Carolina denying a motion to dismiss based on breach of contract grounds against both the company and its principals, but granting dismissal of claims for […]