There have been a number of craft beer trademark battles recently, but this may be the first involving two hippie-inspired names. The dispute features a New York brewery, Ithaca Beer Company, against a Massachusetts brewery, Cambridge Brewing Company.
Ithaca Beer Company has been selling its "Flower Power" IPA since 2000, and obtained a federal registration for the mark in October 2010. [Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of this beer.]
Cambridge Brewing Company has been selling its "Flower Child" IPA since September 2010, and filed an application to register this mark in January 2014.
The FLOWER CHILD application was recently approved by the Trademark Office and published for opposition. On September 17, 2014, Ithaca Beer Company opposed the application, alleging that there is a likelihood of confusion between the two marks. (See: http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91218388&pty=OPP) While the Notice of Opposition features the usual arguments concerning the similarities between the marks and the goods, it also has some interesting allegations about Cambridge Brewing Company's bad faith in adopting its mark. Specifically, Ithaca alleges that:
- "[I]n or prior to 2010, a Cambridge Brewing Co. brewer contacted an Ithaca Beer Co. brewer with a question about how FLOWER POWER IPA was made. The Ithaca Beer Co. brewer provided the Cambridge Brewing Co. brewer with the recipe for FLOWER POWER IPA, which the Cambridge Brewing Co. brewer used as inspiration for its FLOWER CHILD IPA.
- An interview of a former Cambridge Brewing Co. brewer, which was published on www.caskandculture.com, states that the “name ‘Flower Child’ stands as a tongue-in-cheek nod to the recipe that helped it blossom,” i.e., FLOWER POWER.
- Likewise, a September 22, 2010 post by Cambridge Brewing Co. on its Facebook page states that FLOWER CHILD IPA is an “homage” to Ithaca Brewing Co.’s FLOWER POWER.
- Cambridge Brewing Co. named its beer FLOWER CHILD specifically in reference to Ithaca Beer Co.’s FLOWER POWER.
- Cambridge Brewing Co. named its beer FLOWER CHILD in order to play off and trade on the success of Ithaca Beer Co.’s FLOWER POWER beer."
Based on an initial review of the allegations, it looks like it will be an uphill battle for Cambridge Brewing Co., especially in light of the TTAB's recent decision in the PURPLE HAZE v. SUNNY HAZY case. (See: http://thettablog.blogspot.com/2014/09/sunny-haze-confusable-with-purple-haze.html)