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