Likelihood of Confusion – Brewery Trademark Battle in Texas

trademark infringementIn March 2014, the makers of Alamo Beer filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement in the Western District of Texas. Alamo Beer Company alleged that a competitor was using a confusingly similar trade dress (likelihood of confusion), including a similar design depicting a silhouette of the Alamo.  In this case, the State of Texas, owner of the actual Alamo (historical venue and associated trademarks), intervened with permission of the Court in order to protect the state owned ALAMO trademarks.

Since 1997, when the Alamo Beer Company started selling beer under its Alamo brand, it employed a silhouette of the Alamo as a part of its logo. Alamo Beer Company uses the Alamo and other typical Texas imagery like stars, cannons to form the look and feel of its Alamo logo and trade dress. Alamo Beer Company never registered its logo (design trademark); but did register the word mark ALAMO. Sometime between 2011 or 2012, Texian Brewing Company, also located in the state of Texas, began using a similar logo likelihood of confusionfeaturing a silhouette of the Alamo. Texian’s tap handles also feature silhouette of the Alamo, a cannon, star, and other Texas imagery. Alamo Beer Company placed Texian on notice of its possible trademark infringement of the Alamo Beer Company’s trademarks. Texian did not respond to Alamo Beer Company but instead proceeded to file a trademark application to register its trademarks. Soon thereafter, Alamo Beer Company filed a trademark infringement suit against Texian claiming likelihood of confusion and similarity of the trademarks.

The Alamo Beer Company may have avoided litigation altogether if it had registered its logo when it first started using it in commerce. Arguably, Alamo Beer Company has grounds to cancel Texian’s trademark registration because technically it was a senior user of the trademark (trademark priority).

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