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Heads Up – Top 5 Reasons Craft Breweries Need to Register Their Trademarks

February 16, 2015

Successful breweries offer more than just good beer – they develop a strong brand that resonates with consumers. Effective branding starts with a distinctive, protectable trademark. Registering your trademark is the best way to protect it.

Unless you have a federal trademark registration you do not have nationwide rights to your brand. Many breweries start locally and keep distribution limited until they build a following. Without a federal trademark registration, you can be prevented from expanding, and even be forced to stop using your brand entirely.

According to the American Brewers Association the number of U.S. breweries rose from under 100 to over 1700 in the last 30 years (at least 725 new breweries were in planning as of 2011). Branding is essential in distinguishing your beer among your competition.

Craft breweries are experiencing an increase in the frequency of trademark claims brought by wine and spirits makers. Building your brand around defensible trademarks helps avoid unnecessary conflicts and expense.

Having a federally registered trademark is a necessity for protecting your brand online. The Internet and social media networks are constantly changing. The result is increased brand integration (and infringement). A trademark registration can significantly reduce the expenses associated with domain disputes or internet-based trademark infringement.

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC provides a variety of legal services to the craft beer industry. For questions please contact Brian Gregg at 717-237-5456 or