N.C. Tribe sues Anheuser-Busch for”Unscrupulous” Trademark Infringement

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This week the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch InBev and R.A. Jeffreys Distributing Co., claiming infringement of a tribal trademark and slogan in advertisements at gas stations.

The lawsuit alleges that by using the Lumbee circular tribe logo and the “Heritage, Pride & Strength” slogan in beer advertisements at gas stations, AB InBev is creating the false impression that the tribe is affiliated with Bud Light.  The Lumbee logo is visible at the top left of the photo, consisting of a circular shape that “is symbolic of the Circle of Life.”

The lawsuit claims AB InBev’s use of its tribal trademark in advertisements is “immoral, unethical, oppressive, (and) unscrupulous.” Counsel for the plaintiffs further noted that as alcohol and drug abuse are often associated with Native American culture, AB InBev’s use of these marks to promote alcohol is “particularly offensive to Lumbee people.” The plaintiffs are seeking court costs and profits derived from using the tribe’s trademark.

The Lumbee Tribe is the ninth-largest in the United States, and calls itself the largest tribe in North Carolina. They are largely centered in the eastern part of NC in Robeson County.

Thanks to the Charlotte Business Journal – link to article is here.




SC Brewery goes Green Year-Round


While many folks may be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with green-tinted beers today, Legal Remedy Brewing Company in Rock Hill, SC goes green every day with their solar-powered system and environmentally-friendly habits.  The brewery was just awarded the Green Spirit Award by CleanEnergy.org.

Solar panels create canopies at Legal Remedy’s front patio, providing a comfortable spot in the shade for the customers while also powering a 30-kilowatt solar power system for the brewery itself.  Thanks to these panels, plus an additional solar panel on the roof, Legal Remedy is able to offset about 35% of their electric bill.

The York County brewery also installed LED lights throughout the space, and returns its spent grain to local farms for the livestock to eat.

Congratulations and Cheers to Legal Remedy! Thanks to CleanEnergy.org for the original article.




Alabama Craft Brewers Push for Growlers, Direct Sales


Let Peyton Manning have all the Budweiser he wants – with that (unpaid?) sales pitch at the end of Super Bowl 50, I have a feeling there’s already a team of Clydesdales and a hefty supply of Buds waiting in his driveway.

Meanwhile brewers in Alabama would likely prefer to celebrate a win in their state legislature by cracking open a 6-pack or a growler full of craft beer with their customers. Brewpubs & breweries currently have to turn away customers who ask for growler fills, and direct them to the nearest retailer who stocks their beer (and hopefully still has some available!) Otherwise, any beer sold at the brewery must be consumed on the premises.

Dan Roberts, executive director of the Alabama Brewers Guild, said Alabama is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t allow customers to “leave a brewery with beer.” The guild represents 27 brewers across the state.

The Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Study Commission voted on recommendations for presentation to the state legislature to ease restrictions on brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, and also to allow for greater retail opportunities.  The recommendations passed a few weeks ago include the following:

  • Small brewers and brewpubs would be able to sell less than 60,000 barrels per year for retail, and sell up to 288 ounces per consumer per day, in any packaging including bottles, cans or growlers.
  • Brewpubs would no longer have to be located in a historic building or economically distressed area.
  • Brewers could directly deliver beer to charity functions, up to two kegs per event.
  • Alabama wineries would be able to retail wines at one ABC-board approved location.
  • Alabama distilleries would be able to directly sell consumers up to one 750 milliliter bottle of their spirits per person per year, only for off-premise consumption.

Members of the Commission traveled to North Carolina and Colorado to study and review those states’ laws, where the craft beer industry is thriving.

Text of Alabama Senate Bill 542 is here.


GA Wholesalers and Breweries Declare A Truce – For Now

beer tour imageGeorgia craft beer breweries and distilleries have reportedly reached an agreement with the state’s wholesalers in an attempt to avoid further battles over how these small businesses operate. 

How did we get here?  Last year, Georgia legislators passed laws to allow customers to purchase a brewery tour and receive “free” beer at the end of tour. Under that law, breweries would offer different tours at varying price points depending on the style and price of the beer offered.  Two months later, the Department of Revenue responded with new rules, forbidding breweries from changing the price of the tours based on the type of beer offered. Local breweries were furious, accusing the Department of Revenue for giving in to the demands of the wholesalers. Since then, the brewers and distillers combined forces and been demanding sweeping changes to Georgia’s alcohol laws. 

What are the terms of the truce? According to the deal, the Georgia Department of Revenue will issue new rules: 

  • Allow brewers again to sell brewery tours at variable prices based on the kind of beer offered.
  • Allow special events at breweries and distilleries.
  • Let brewers, distilleries and wholesalers use social media to alert the public about where to buy their products or advertise special events.
  • Allow third parties to sell tour tickets.
  • Let breweries and distilleries sell food on site.
  • And…the breweries and distilleries have promised not to seek any further changes to the alcohol laws for 2016.

Members of the Georgia Brewers Guild don’t see this as a “win” for breweries right now, but others hope that it’s a tiny step in the right direction.

*Tip of the hat to GA Beer Laws; Atlanta Journal-Constitution


How Many Homebrewers under 1 Roof Does it Take to Violate State Law?

How many people in your household are home-brewing beer?   If it’s more than one, and if you live in Colorado, you may be in violation of Colorado state law.

While home-brewing has been legal in Colorado for decades, there is a funny interpretation of the state law that could mean only one person per household may home-brew beer or home-ferment wine. Colorado state law (C.R.S. 12-47-106) allows tax-free home-brewing of beer only by a “head of a family” and it has to be made “for family use.”

The problem is the law does not define what a “head of a family” means, so for now, the likely legal interpretation limits this to only one individual.

A bipartisan bill seeks to clarify this issue, and would update the current law to state that an “adult” may home-brew beer, and to expand the practice from “family use” to “personal use.” With that, homebrewing spouses, partners, roommates, and families may be able to breathe a little extra sigh of relief – until then, the real battle may be determining who is the “head” of the family.

“NetFlix of Beer”company accepted to Global Startup Accelerator

Charlotte, NC startup BREWPUBLIK – which has been described as the “NetFlix of Beer” – has been accepted to participate in 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed fund and started accelerator based in Silicon Valley.

Brewpublik delivers craft beer to their subscribers’ front door each month, using an online algorithm to determine their individual tastes and preferences. They just celebrated the company’s 1-year anniversary, and have enjoyed business growth by more than 20 percent month-over-month. Monthly members currently exceed 1,000 in Charlotte and Raleigh.

“We’re excited to take part in 500 Startups to represent Charlotte and the craft beer industry,” said Zach Jamison, BREWPUBLIK co-founder. “It’s the perfect platform to help us accelerate city to city, globally.”

Find The Charlotte Business Journal press release here.

California Beer Bike law in effect for 2016


Last October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill to permit beer bikes to operate on city streets. The bill became effective in January 2016.

Beer bikes are popular in several cities, as a riding tour with up to 15 people pedaling together on a single vehicle. Some municipalities permit riders to drink while they ride, while other cities only let riders pedal their way to different breweries to go have their beer tastings inside.

500 Years of the German Beer Purity Law

Not only does 2016 mark the beginning of this blog, it is also the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebotthe German beer purity order adopted in Bavaria in 1516. According to the Reinheitsgebot, if a beverage is to be considered as “beer,”  it can only contain 3 ingredients: water, barley and hops. Thereafter, yeast has also been considered an acceptable ingredient.

Whether one chooses to closely follow the Reinheitsgebot, like Charlotte’s own German-style Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, or to boldly experiment with fruit, coffee, or spices to create a uniquely American craft beer, today’s breweries have much more on their minds than a half-century-old Bavarian purity law: State and Federal Regulations, Supply and Distribution Agreements, Trademarks, Employment Matters, to name a few.

Legal Draughts is a place to share conversations, thoughts, and musings about craft beer, the business of brews, and the law.  Welcome and Prost!


*disclaimer: This blog is provided for informational purposes only and none of the information provided should be considered to be legal advice.