Craft Brewers Settle “Idiot” Trademark Dispute

Two months after Coronado Brewing Co. filed a Complaint for trademark infringement against Elysian Brewing Co., the two companies have formally settled their dispute.  Coronado operates microbreweries and brewpubs in California and is the owner of a U.S. trademark registration for “IDIOT” in connection with beer and related beverages.  One of the beers sold in connection with its IDIOT mark is an India pale ale.   The lawsuit was prompted by a new India pale ale from Elysian called “Idiot Sauvin.”  Coronado alleged that consumers were likely to believe that beers sold by Elysian under the “Idiot Sauvin” name were provided by, approved by, sponsored by, and/or affiliated with Coronado in light of its more senior and registered IDIOT trademark.

According to BeerPulse.com, the dispute has now been resolved, with one of Elysian’s co-founders stating:

I can say that we’ve agreed not to use the word Idiot in the future.  The beer in question will be called Savant. As we would with any of our colleagues in the craft brewing industry we will welcome our friends at Coronado to our local market, once they get here.  I doubt that we will be collaborating with them on any projects.

The court was formally informed of the settlement on 7/16/12.

Putting aside the merits of the allegations, this case highlights the importance of conducting trademark clearance when selecting a brand name for new products and before any marketing of the product.

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