The Trademark Office has discerning taste when it comes to beer. Two rival breweries came to an agreement that they could both use the TIME TRAVELER trademark in association with beer but the Trademark Office rejected a trademark registration request claiming two “Time Traveler” beers would confuse the alcohol consuming public.
In 2013, Bay State Brewing Company, Inc., a Massachusetts based brewery, filed an intent to use trademark registration for TIME TRAVELER BLONDE for “beer” but was denied registration because the Trademark Office said it was confusingly similar to the currently registered TIME TRAVELER mark for “beer, ale and lager”. TIME TRAVELER is owned by a Vermont based brewery, A&S Brewing, with several brands of famous beers such as Traveler Beer (the beer with the guy in glasses and handlebar mustache) and Coney Island Brewing. After the denial, Bay State appealed the decision.
Bay State concedes that the names are similar but claims that they have a consent agreement with A&S that permits them both to use the name. In other words, while the parties put limitations on the use, they had no problem with the other using the TIME TRAVELER mark. The agreement still could not persuade the Trademark Office. The Trademark Office took judicial notice of the fact that “beer is often relatively inexpensive , subject to impulse purchase, and often ordered orally in a bar or restaurant.” Thus when someone orders a “Time Traveler” at a bar, there is a likely chance that you, the bartender and everyone within listening distance would be confused about what beer you were actually ordering. The Trademark Office cares about your beer choices.
Therefore, the appeal was denied and Bay State will not be permitted to register the TIME TRAVELER mark. Despite the refusal, Bay State is free to use the name on beer but will not be afforded the protection of a registered trademark. Now, let’s all time travel to happy hour to do some taste testing.