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June 27, 2018

Shipyard Brewing loses lawsuit over trade name

Shipyard Brewing Co. in Portland on Monday lost its trademark infringement suit against Columbia, Mo., brewer Logboat Brewing Co.

The Portland Press Herald reported Missouri federal Judge Nanette K. Laughrey dismissed Shipyard's claims that a brand of beer made by Logboat, called Shiphead, violated Shipyard's trademark with its name, the color scheme on the can and a schooner logo on the Shiphead can. As part of her ruling, she noted that a shipyard is a physical space and a term used for centuries, while "shiphead" is a made-up word.

Shipyard filed the suit a year ago. In January, a federal judge dismissed a defamation claim that was part of that suit, the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune reported. The defamation claim came after Shipyard had filed its lawsuit and was barraged by negative comments on Facebook — comments it alleged were prompted by Logboat.

Trademark disputes on the rise

Brewer lawsuits continue to brew. Earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald reported that Stony Creek Brewery, based in Branford, Conn., claims in a lawsuit filed June 6 in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., that Peak Organic's Ripe beer is "confusingly similar" to Stony Creek's Ripe 'n' Cranky. Peak Organic Brewing is produced at Shipyard Brewing's Portland facility. Both are based in Portland and both are named in the suit, according to the Press Herald.

In 2016, Law360 had a story 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 — as a factor in that trend.

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

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