With all the collaboration in the craft brewing industry sometimes it’s easy to forget that brewers are businesses in a competitive market. They battle it out in stores and bars for tap handles and shelf space. With this has come the occasional trademark dispute and New York breweries have participated in several this year. Earlier this year Narwhal Brewery changed its name to Finback Brewery (not open yet) after a trademark conflict with Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal Stout; and Sixpoint Brewery issued a cease and desist to Renegade Brewing in Colorado for their canned beer Ryetous, which Renegade then changed to Redacted.
The latest dispute comes within the city itself as the NY Daily News reported this week. The long-established Harlem Brewing Company is butting heads with the upcoming Harlem Brew House. Harlem Brewing Company, based out of Harlem and brewed in Saratoga, produces Sugar Hill Golden Ale, while Harlem Brew House plans to brew Harlem Blue. Celeste Beatty, owner of Harlem Brewing Company claims this causes confusion between her upcoming Harlem Brew brand. It sounds as though the dispute may head to court with Julian Riley of Harlem Brew House claiming it is unreasonable to own a trademark on “Harlem.”
With more and more breweries popping up in the city we expect there to be more disputes of this kind, especially since breweries like to tie their brands to their locale. Hopefully disputes like these don’t undermine the collaborative efforts that so many breweries engage in.