Hidden Land Use Issues with Urban Winery Properties

The interest in urban wineries is on the rise, with companies looking to take advantage of close proximity to customers, empty warehouse and industrial space, and access to city water and sewer.  However, hidden land use issues can present significant problems when pursuing this type of urban property, particularly within the City of Portland (City).

“Grandfathered” Uses

With the changing urban landscape (in-fill development, urban renewal areas, etc.), many older warehouses and industrial spaces are located in zones that now restrict commercial and industrial activities.  This means that although an industrial activity may have historically occupied the building, a new or changed industrial use may be prohibited or restricted under the City’s current land use regulations.  Even if the building is marketed as a “grandfathered” industrial space, that does not mean it has been approved as a legal nonconforming use or situation under the City’s code.  It is important to know whether the City has already issued a legal nonconforming determination for the industrial activities and, if not, to consider whether such a determination can be obtained prior to acquiring the property.  The City’s website provides a good explanation of the process and the review requirementsContinue Reading

Guest Post: Why Restaurant Chains Are Issuing new Food Menu

We published a post on our sister Food Liability Law blog that has application to AB blog readers also. In the post, we review why popular chain restaurants have started publishing new menus with calorie and other nutrition information. The answer is to be found in the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration’s new Menu Labeling Rule.

Click here to read our post.

“Organic” Labeling of Marijuana is Not Permitted

Many sellers of marijuana and marijuana-infused products are using the term “organic” on their labels. They may be unaware that the use of “organic” is strictly regulated by the USDA and the states. It simply isn’t permitted on marijuana products.

Essentially, “organic” is not permitted on a label unless (a) the product is certified by an independent body per USDA requirements, or (b) the grower’s or processor’s revenues are less than $5,000 per year. For processed foods, the processor must have an organic certificate from USDA. The product can then bear organic labeling only if it is comprised mostly of certified organic ingredients. Any non-organic ingredients in the product must be on an “approved” USDA list. Unsurprisingly, USDA organic certification standards don’t exist for marijuana, and it’s not on the “approved non-organics” list either.

It’s clear that the use of the term “organic” is not currently permitted for marijuana flower or for foods containing marijuana or its constituents in any form. In addition, Washington’s I-502 regulations say marijuana products may not be labeled as organic unless they comply with the USDA organic program. Which they can’t do, for now.

Labeling compliance challenges are rampant in the marijuana marketplace. This is one of easy ones.

Thanks to Chris Van Hook, Esq. of Clean Green Certified  for his help on this post.

Fox Business Network Profiles Winery Owner Pascal Brooks in “Strange Inheritance” Episode

Congratulations to Pascal Brooks and Janie Heuck for their tremendous success growing Brooks Winery and keeping alive the memory of Pascal’s father and Janie’s brother Jimi.  We join them in looking forward to viewing Strange Inheritance With Jamie Colby that tells the amazing story of their journey to preserve the winery for Pascal, which was his late father’s wish. The show is scheduled to air on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. More details at www.strangeinheritance.com.

Five Important Trademark Lessons the Beverages Trade Learned in 2014

The folks at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”) received nearly half a million trademark applications last year. These applications included thousands of new filings by breweries, vineyards, wineries, and distilleries. Here are five important lessons we learned from last year’s decisions by various trademark tribunals about protecting and registering your mark in the beer, wine or spirits industries. Continue Reading

Despite What You May Think, “IPA” Really Could Have Been a Trademark for Beer

Can one brewery sue another to stop them from using a stylized version of “IPA,” a familiar acronym for the popular style of beer known as India Pale Ale?  As you may have heard, the Lagunitas Brewing Co. just tried  . . . and it didn’t go so well.  But things could have worked out very differently if Lagunitas had raised its claims back in 1995, a time when Lagunitas says it was the only one using “IPA” to market an India Pale Ale.

On Monday, The Lagunitas Brewing Co. filed suit against fellow California craft brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for trademark infringement in an attempt to prevent Sierra Nevada from rolling out a new label for Sierra Nevada’s “Hop Hunter IPA”.  Lagunitas claimed Sierra Nevada’s label depicted “IPA” in a style that was too similar to the way “IPA” appears on the label of Lagunitas’ flagship “Lagunitas IPA”.


Sierra Nevada’s design, Lagunitas argued, “uses all capital, large, bold, black ‘IPA’ lettering in a font selection that is remarkably similar to the Lagunitas design” and was likely to create confusion among consumers as to the origin of Sierra Nevada’s product.

By Wednesday, Lagunitas had dropped the case, citing the overwhelming public uproar over its claims:  “Today was in the hands of the ultimate court; The Court of Public Opinion and in it we got an answer to our Question; Our flagship IPA’s registered federal trademark has limits

Why Lagunitas Faced an Uphill Battle Continue Reading

U.S. Trademark Filing Fees to be Reduced in 2015

Great news! The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced that trademark application filing fees will be reduced by $50 per class effective January 17, 2015. The USPTO fee for standard electronic filings will be $275. The USPTO fee for electronic filings that use previously-accepted goods and services wording will be $225.

Application filing dates are important, so we do NOT recommend delaying any new applications until January 17 in order to take advantage of the reduced fees. It’s always best to file ASAP after a mark is cleared through searching, especially if the mark is not yet in use.

Further, the USPTO fee for renewing a registration will be reduced from $400 to $300 per class. If your renewal deadline falls after January 15, you may as well wait until then to file for renewal and save a few bucks.

Oregon Liquor Control Commission Given Job of Regulating Recreational Marijuana

Following in the steps of Washington and Colorado, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 91 (PDF) on November 4, opening the door to legalized recreational marijuana in the state. Beginning July 1, 2015, the Control, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act allows Oregonians 21 years and older to possess up to eight ounces of dried marijuana and grow up to four plants per household. Each adult can possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana in public, but marijuana may not be consumed in public or while driving. Possession of infused products (such as drinks and lotions) will also be allowed.  The Oregonian’s FAQ addressing the measure is a good place to start to get the basics.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (“OLCC”) is responsible for drafting and adopting rules to regulate the use, licensing, and sales of recreational marijuana. Four types of marijuana businesses will be allowed under the Act:  (1) marijuana producers licensed to grow for wholesale; (2) marijuana processors licensed to produce extracts and products; (3) marijuana wholesalers licensed to purchase weed and weed products to sell to retailers and other non-consumers; and (4) marijuana retailers licensed to sell weed and related items at retail to consumers. The OLCC will begin accepting applications for these four business types on January 4, 2016.

The OLCC issued a statement (PDF) in response to the passage of Ballot Measure 91. OLCC chairman Rob Patridge plans to meet with members of the public across the state to draft rules that reflect “Oregon’s way” to regulate marijuana. The process will involve input from government, schools, law enforcement, growers, and medical marijuana business, and will result in rules that take account of some of the lessons Washington and Colorado have learned since legalization occurred in those jurisdiction. The public can send comments to marijuana@oregon.gov and can obtain basic information on the new law by calling (503) 872-6366.

Stoel Rives will continue to monitor the development of the new regulatory regime and will post periodic updates on this blog.  Please check in regularly and contact us if you have any questions.

For a perspective on what legalization means for Oregon employers, read What Does Alaska’s and Oregon’s Legalization of Marijuana Change for Employers?  Answer:  Probably Not Much. on our sister blog, World of Employment.

Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog Launches New Responsive Design and Enhanced Reader Features

Dear Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog readers. We first launched this blog in 2010 to help us keep you informed about major alcoholic beverages law news and – in particular – how these developments could impact your business. While our commitment to keep you informed hasn’t changed, technology certainly has. More than four years ago, we were still operating in a desktop- and RSS-dominated world. Today, more and more of you are reading our posts on tablets and smartphones. As readers ourselves, we understand your need for news on-the-go and at your convenience.

So we’re very excited to announce to you today a completely new – and improved – blog design, along with new feature sets we think will enhance your content experience.

  • First, Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog now uses a responsive design format. So no matter where – or on what device – you visit us, you can be assured of a consistent, clean and crisp reader experience.
  • Second, we’ve added new social sharing features to our posts. With easy-to-read social icons, sharing Alcoholic Beverages Law Blog posts with your social networks is now a snap.
  • Third, we’ve improved our content subscription options. We’ve expanded the number of RSS subscription feeds, optimized the look and feel of our email subscription service, and added links to our Twitter feed as an alternative content consumption option.

We hope you enjoy the new design and accompanying readership experience enhancements. Thanks again for visiting and keeping us on your list of must-read alcoholic beverages news sites!

Rebuilding: Dealing with or Without Earthquake Insurance

The following post was written by my colleagues Tom Woods, Parissa Ebrahimzadeh & Bao Vu

As part of the Northern California business community and as an advisor to business, we support the Napa and the surrounding Bay Area in getting homes and businesses back on their feet following the August 24, 2014 Napa Valley earthquake.

The earthquake that rocked Napa Valley and nearby regions left an estimated $1 billion in damages, according to a county news release. The McClatchy News Service recently observed the quake “upended more than wine barrels and mobile homes. It also was an unsettling reminder of how few Californians – homeowners and businesses alike – carry earthquake insurance.”

Sure, insurance agents will discuss earthquake insurance policies with business owners, but Napa Valley region had not experienced a quake of such magnitude since 1989. Thus, this rare but catastrophic risk was one for which the cost-benefit analysis dictated to many Californians that they should forgo the expensive form of insurance. Statistically, the shocking drop in homeowner earthquake insurance policies purchased over the last decade was dwarfed by the 29% drop in the number of California businesses that purchased policies over the same period. Reports are that only 10% of California businesses and residents carrying property insurance also carry earthquake insurance.

Where the wine and agriculture industry suffered $48 million worth of damage, and with over 120 businesses affected, the questions running through so many confused and disrupted lives include: “What do I do now? Did I need earthquake insurance, specifically? Am I covered? How do I perfect a claim if I am covered and where can I go for help?”

Continue Reading