Activist Phyllis Schlafly loses Trademark dispute against nephew’s brewery
Phyllis Schlafly is a famous American Conservative activist, author, former Constitutional lawyer and founder of Eagle Forum which primarily focuses on social issues. She is also known for her bold social and political views and for her successful campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She recently lost a fight against her nephew’s brewery, St. Louis Brewery, in a trademark battle which was pending in the court for four years. Her nephew ,Tom Schlafly had applied for the Trademark ‘Schlafly Beer’ for his beer in 2012.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decided the case in favor of St. Loius Brewery on 2nd August, 2016 . In 2012, Phyllis Schlafly opposed Tom Schlafly for using the surname Schlafly as his beer’s name. Her main opposition was that his nephew shouldn’t be able to trademark a name which she made famous after years of her dedicated work in the social arena.
The primary contentions of Phyllis Schlafly were that the surname, Schlafly, has connotation of conservative values which include abstaining people from alcohol and consequently, the use of her surname on the beer would be in contravention of those values. Her son, Dr. Bruce Schlafly had also filed an opposition alleging that the use of surname Schlafly on the beer could adversely affect his reputation as an orthopedic surgeon by associating his name with alcohol, which was later consolidated with his mother’s opposition filing.
The Board, in its decision, rejected all the above contentions made by Phyllis Schlafly and her son. The Board dismissed the argument that a Trademark ‘Schlafly Beer’ shouldn’t be allowed because it is primarily a surname, based on the fact that it has acquired distinctiveness. The Board considered the testimony of the makers of the beer and came to the conclusion that Schlafly Beer & St. Louis Brewery has won many competitions and prizes across the United States of America and is sold at more than 10,000 retail locations in 15 States and the District of Columbia. The annual revenues also showed almost ten-fold increase in the sales of the beer from 1999 when it was started being brewed, till 2014. The Board abstained itself from deciding any popularity contest between the two parties, however, it asserted that after 25 years of business and extensive marketing in the market, Schlafly Beer has acquired distinctiveness and the public associates the mark with St. Louis Brewery only.
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Authored By Nikhil Kumar