What do trademarks and beer have to do with each other? Quite a bit actually. I was browsing the interwebs and came across an interesting article about beer and trademarks. Normally I have no problem with breweries obtaining trademarks to protect their intellectual property (brew names and/or labels). However, Anheuser-Busch InBev (with its recent purchase of Goose Island) has decided to trademark beer names that include area codes. I’m sure this was originally intended to merely protect the newly acquired 312 Urban Wheat, but they have also been granted trademarks for area codes which there is not currently a beer name. This includes D.C.’s beloved 202 area code. The problem which arises from this practice is where does this stop? Are they going to trademark any number? Will they actively sue microbreweries with established names to strong arm them?
This is a slippery slope. I fear that Anheuser-Busch InBev will use this as another method to attempt to push their microbrewery competition out of the market. It will most likely stop a local brewery from using names which will identify it with their city. I really hope that these trademarks will not be used for evil. What do you think?