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May 17, 2017

Shipyard files trademark lawsuit against Midwest brewery

Photo / Lori Valigra
Photo / Lori Valigra
Fred Forsley, owner of Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland. The brewery alleges in a federal lawsuit that a Missouri brewery is selling a beer that infringes on Shipyard's trademarked name.

Portland-based Shipyard Brewing Co. alleges in a federal lawsuit that a Missouri brewery is selling a beer that infringes on Shipyard's trademarked name.

The Portland Press Herald reported that lawsuit centers on Logboat Brewing Co.'s Shiphead beer, with Shipyard stating the beer's name resembles Shipyard beers named Pumpkinhead, Melonhead and Applehead.

The Portland brewery seeks an injunction, damages from lost profits and other related costs, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri and has been referred to mediation.

On Twitter, Logboat responded to the lawsuit Tuesday: "In response to the civil action filed against us this week for the use of our Shiphead trademark (registered on July 21st, 2015) we offer the following comment: Logboat denies that its SHIPHEAD mark infringes any trademark rights of Shipyard Brewing Company. Logboat's SHIPHEAD GINGER WHEAT trademark was registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following examination by a Trademark Examiner, and successfully passed through the public opposition phase. Logboat's mark was never challenged during the registration process as being likely to cause confusion with the trademark of any other party."

Logboat co-founder Tyson Hunt was a Columbia [Mo.] Business Times' "20 under 40" honoree in 2016. In the feature's Q&A, he said prior to starting Logboat he was an elementary school teacher, working with special needs kids.

Law360 had a story last summer saying there's been a spike in trademark disputes among craft brewers. It cited the rapid rise of the industry — 1,600 breweries in 2009, versus nearly 4,300 today.

"It's a recipe for trademark disputes, even in a business that has been historically collaborative and low-key," Bill Donahue of Law360 wrote.

Several beer drinkers were vocal about the lawsuit on Shipyard's Facebook page. One commenter chastised the Portland company for going after a brewer "2,000 miles from you and doesn't distribute close to Maine and isn't even close to your name." And the comments get worse from there.

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