When "Beervana" Got Trademarked

An email this morning reminded me that Rogue had trademarked the words "dare" and "risk" as they apply to barley malts. I see nothing particularly ominous in this--I can't imagine anyone else thinking this would be a good marketing opportunity. Rogue clearly can't trademark the words in their traditional use, so really, it's another stunt to underscore the "Rogue" brand.

But it reminded me of a potentially darker mark that debuted earlier this year--one which may amount to nothing. Have a look:

Goods and Services IC 032. US 045 046 048. G & S: Ale; Beer. FIRST USE: 20080901. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20080901
Standard Characters Claimed
Serial Number 77002599
Filing Date September 19, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition May 8, 2007
Registration Number 3793428
Registration Date May 25, 2010
Owner (REGISTRANT) Comeback Brewing, Inc. CORPORATION TEXAS 141800 San Pedro, Suite 310 San Antonio TEXAS 78232
Attorney of Record Christopher D. Erickson
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

You may not recognize "Comeback Brewing," but that refers to Gambrinus-owned BridgePort, who rolled out their "Beervana" ads earlier this year. Texas-based Gambrinus.

Now, a Texas corporation owning the trademark to "Beervana" might raise a few hackles. But of course, it almost HAD to be a non-Oregon company that registered it; no locals would dare (not Dare ™) seize such a sacred and communal appellation. John Harris mentioned it to me earlier this year, with rightful pique--the Texas thing seemed to bother him especially.

Since I've been associated with the word for over a decade, I have a few thoughts, too. Of course, I've had this blog for four years. I also held the domain name a decade ago. Throughout this association, I've been very careful to recognize that the name is firmly in the public domain. When applied to the place of Portland or Oregon, it might as well be the words Portland or Oregon. Beyond using it as a tag in their advertisements, I have no idea what Gambrinus' interest in the word "Beervana" is.

Honestly though? I'm not too worried. BridgePort is mainly sold in the Northwest. The idea of using the word "Beervana" stems from the urge to sell beer. Getting in a huge war with people by trying to limit their fair use of the word "Beervana" will not result in greater sales. And there would be a huge war--one I'd be happy to lead. So I figure, it's interesting but not particularly threatening.

As micros get more and more macro, we're going to run up against these kinds of seizures of the psychic landscape of brewing. It's not a tiny brotherhood anymore; it's big business. Real dollars are at stake. I'm pretty cool with it, but I wonder--will it damage or dull the enthusiasm beer geeks have to the erstwhile mom 'n pop breweries? Your thoughts?