The craft beer industry is ripe with trademark lawsuits over its beer names. The latest has Connecticut-based Stony Creek Brewery suing Portland, Maine-based Shipyard Brewing Co. and Peak Organic Brewing Company over the use of the word “ripe” in the name for one of its beers.
According to the complaint filed in Connecticut’s U.S. District Court, Peak Organic’s latest Double IPA named “Ripe” is confusingly similar to Stony Creek’s “Ripe ‘n’ Cranky”. The brand name used by Stony Creek represents a trio of IPAs that have been infused with different fruit juices.
Shipyard Brewing brews and cans the Peak Organic beers at its Portland facility, including the “Ripe” DIPA. The beer is described on the Peak Organic website and in the complaint as “a juicy double IPA that is absolutely dripping with fresh-cut fruit and citrus hop flavors… It’s bold and tropical in flavor.” Stony Creek objects to its description using fruit.
Of course, the word “ripe” may be considered a general term to describe a beer. Shipyard and Peak Organic have until January 5th to dispute Stony Creek’s complaint.
Trademark lawsuits have become more frequent in the craft beer industry. According to an article in the Press Herald, there are two or three such suits filed over beer names every month. And the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is outright rejecting many proposed beer names because of such trademark issues.
Coincidentally, Shipyard filed a lawsuit last year against Missouri-based Logboat Brewing, which produces Shiphead, a Wheat Ale. That suit has mediation later this month.
Other recent suits include Sony’s complaint against Knee Deep Brewing for their Breaking Bud IPA. And Stone Brewing is suing MillerCoors for the emphasized use of the word “Stone” in its Keystone Light packaging.