Real Ale Brewing successfully stops Fireman’s Brew’s use of name in Texas

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman.  Real Ale’s Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery’s most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of other suds.

Deborah Cannon / American-Statesman. Real Ale’s Firemans #4, left, is easily the brewery’s most sold beer in Texas, allowing it to branch out and offer a wide range of other suds.

After filing a lawsuit against California brewery Fireman’s Brew, which had been intending to bring its beers to Texas, Real Ale Brewing has gotten the outcome it sought.

Both beer makers agreed on a settlement in Texas federal court last week that prevents “Fireman’s Brew Inc. (from) using the Fireman’s mark to sell beer in Texas,” according to legal news site Law360. Fireman’s Brew also can’t use any “confusing similar variations of the mark” in the state.

Real Ale felt the lawsuit was necessary because of Firemans #4, the Blanco brewery’s biggest seller and one of Texas’ most well-known craft beers. In addition to having a similar name, Fireman’s Brew has a red logo, the same color as Firemans #4’s packaging. Those two elements, Real Ale believed, could cause consumer confusion while at bars and stores selling both products.

When reached, Real Ale declined to comment on the outcome of the settlement. Fireman’s Brew is also staying silent.

“The terms of the settlement are confidential, and we have no comment,” David Johnson, chief operating officer at Fireman’s Brew, told Law360 last week.

They are just the latest breweries to become ensnared in legal battles over similar-sounding names and branding. Trademark disputes have become a major problem of late in the industry because of the skyrocketing growth of craft beer and the more than 4,000 U.S. breweries clamoring for shelf space and drinkers’ attentions. Differentiating themselves through distinctive branding is one crucial way that breweries can get noticed.

Another Austin-area brewery to battle in court over trademark rights was Oasis, Texas Brewing, defending its use of the name Slow Ride Pale Ale against Colorado brewery New Belgium.

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