AMC is knocking down the doors of an alleged trademark infringer. AMC, the network behind Breaking Bad, has opposed an attempt for a brewery to register a trademark for HEISENBERG beer.
AMC is no stranger to legal battles and not to the archives of this blog. AMC is notoriously protective of its intellectual property and finds itself in many legal disputes. You can read about other ones here. “Heisenberg” is, of course, the alias of drug dealer and former high school teacher, Walter White, in AMC’s cult classic show, Breaking Bad. The show remains, and perhaps is more now, highly popular and has given birth to the incredible Better Call Saul prequel.
In August 2015, (things take their time at the Trademark Office) Austin Beerworks LLC, an Austin-based brewery, filed a trademark registration for the HEISENBERG mark in a class that covers beer. Beerworks claims since 2013 it has used the HEISENBERG mark is association with its beer and in support of its application submitted the image that can be seen to the right as proof. Yeah, a handwritten label on a keg is not the most sophisticated in use sample and even a little suspicious. However, on the company’s website they advertise the beer bearing the same name so they are clearly selling the beer but the trademark is the real issue.
Breaking Bad started airing in 2008 so there is no doubt that AMC first used the unique name and Beerworks’ use started after the show already won two Emmys for best television drama. AMC argues that confusion between the two marks is very likely especially since AMC licenses the HEISENBERG mark for a brand of vodka. In fact, Beerworks acknowledged that that the public was likely to recognize HEISENBERG as “the code name of a character from a popular show.” Ouch, not a good admission there, Mr. Lawyer. AMC argues that the consuming public is bound to think that HEISENBERG beer is affiliated with or endorsed by AMC, when it is not.
I can’t see this trademark getting through. The mark has garnered such fame by *Breaking Bad’*s use of the mark and especially since it is distributing its own branded alcohol, confusion is very likely. Oh well, maybe Saul Goodman beer has a better ring to it.