Matthew McLaughlin is an instructor in the University of Vermont’s Craft Beer School.
Matthew, who is also an instructor in UVM’s Business of Craft Beer School, used the Stone Brewing Company trademark as an example.
"If you like Stone Brewing Company products and want to purchase more, you can look for the name or the logo and feel confident you will get a quality craft beer that was, in fact, manufactured by Stone Brewing Company," he wrote. "Trademarks benefit the consuming public because they prevent brand confusion. They also benefit trademark owners because they ensure that the goodwill the craft brewery has created is not diminished by products produced by other businesses."
Trademarks encompass more than brand names and logos. They also include words, designs, symbols, and devices used to identify the source of one good from goods made by another source. Under certain circumstances, colors, sounds, and scents can also be trademarks, Matthew wrote.
Trademarks are protected at the federal level by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In order to register a trademark, it must be both distinctive and used in interstate commerce.
Although federal registration is not required for protection of trademark rights, it provides substantial benefits, Matthew explained. "These benefits include evidentiary presumptions regarding the ownership of the mark, the validity of the mark, and the exclusive right to use the mark nationwide in connection with the goods or services connected to the registration."
Matthew's article is Part 1 in a series focused on the importance of trademarks in the craft beer industry. To learn more about trademarks and branding for your brewery, explore Business of Craft Beer Certificate Program and Beer School short courses.