With so many new beers from craft breweries around the country releasing this year alone, it’s almost inevitable that one might have the same name as another — a problem of trademarking that can often turn into an ugly legal dispute.
That’s what one local brewery now faces. Oasis, Texas Brewing Co. is being sued by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado, because both claim to have the right to the name Slow Ride.
Oasis, Texas Brewing has been producing a pale ale under the name Slow Ride since the spring, when the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission gave the Lake Travis-area brewery label approval for the name. New Belgium also has a Slow Ride, this one a session IPA, that will be sold in Texas as the New Belgium Session IPA for the time being, until the lawsuit is settled, according to a post about the trademark dispute on New Belgium’s website.
The longtime Colorado brewery isn’t looking for money. Mainly, according to the post, New Belgium wants to clarify where either brewery can use the name Slow Ride (if one or both of them can).
Although Oasis didn’t register the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office until Nov. 5, several months after New Belgium filed for the trademark with the USPTO, the Slow Ride Pale Ale “hit the market in mid-May, prior to (New Belgium’s) application for a trademark. Their assertion that brewing activities didn’t begin until August is simply untrue,” Oasis, Texas Brewing’s general manager Max Schleder noted on Saturday in a blog post titled “Stolen Ride.”
(With trademark rights, it’s often who uses first, rather than who files first, that determines who has the rights to the trademark. Confused? It took me awhile to understand all this legalese, but this post from a law firm specializing in trademarking helped a lot.)
Because “(Oasis, Texas Brewing) now claims exclusive nationwide rights in the mark,” New Belgium’s post said, “New Belgium has filed a claim in Federal District Court requesting a declaratory order from the Court that sorts out the rights of the parties.”
While New Belgium isn’t using Slow Ride on any of the session IPA labels in Texas, Oasis, Texas Brewing is continuing to produce its pale ale with that name. “We plan to keep making authentic and original craft beers, including Slow Ride…” Schleder wrote. “However, we now find ourselves having to spend large amounts of money on legal fees to protect what we believe to be rightfully and obviously ours — money that should be put towards the growth and support of a small, growing business.”
Oasis, Texas Brewing’s Slow Ride Pale Ale is a 4.8 percent ABV “American muscle beer at its finest,” according to the Oasis, Texas Brewing website, “super-charged with Chinook, Cascade and Columbus hops.”