Anheuser-Busch Opposes Short’s Brewing Co.’s Chocolate Wheat Porter
Anheuser-Busch, which already has 507 registered trademarks of its own, owns Shock Top Brewing Co. Shock Top produces a seasonal Belgian-style witbier with caramel, chocolate and malts called Chocolate Wheat.
Bellaire-based Short's filed its U.S. trademark application last fall, shortly before the release of Shock Top Chocolate Wheat and has been enjoying exclusive rights to the name since 2013 only because no one else ever challenged it -- until now.
Fellow Michigander Daniel J. Christopher, an attorney in patent and trademark law, as well as beverage law says:
The individual terms ‘chocolate’ and ‘wheat’ as well as the phrase ‘chocolate wheat’ are descriptive of ingredients, qualities, characteristics, or features of the goods identified in the Application…. Accordingly, applicant’s applied-for mark, Chocolate Wheat, is merely descriptive of Applicant’s goods.”
In layman's terms, chocolate wheat is just a description of the beer and no one can own the rights to a description.
There's also a producer of specialty malts, Weyermann, which has been selling a chocolate wheat malted grain product in the U.S. since 2012.
There is no word on how Weyermann will play into this case or how long it will take to resolve the trademark issue, although officials said it could be a year or more!
Short's has until Sept. 22 to file an answer to Anheuser-Busch's opposition.