Trademark Infringement Ringing Alarm Bells for Michigan Brewery

Dec 19, 2011 - LegalZoom News Source
Bell's Brewery Inc. recently filed a lawsuit against Winery Exhange Inc. for similar packaging on its beers.

Kalamazoo, Michigan-based Bell’s Brewery Inc. recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against California's Winery Exchange Inc.

The lawsuit is over Winery’s packaging for its Copper Bell beer, with Bell’s asserting the design has too many similarities to its trademarked logo. Winery’s beer features the word “Bell” much more prominently than the word “Copper,” and also features three kettles whose caps are bell-shaped. Three bells are also featured on Bell's logo.

Bell’s, which is sold in 18 states, has had its look trademarked since 2003. Whole Foods grocery stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan, have been selling Winery Exchange’s Copper Bell beer recently, potentially threatening Bell’s local market.

Bell's originally sent a letter to Winery to stop using its three-bell design, which Bell's believed the Winery Exchange was using specifically to confuse consumers. Winery Exchange did not comply with the letter's request, prompting the current suit.

The Michigan brewery is known for its eclectic brews, according to Dan Murphy, a beer expert who wrote an article for Alabama news source the Mobile Press-Register. Last year’s most talked-about Bell's creation, the “Batch 10,000,” was produced using more than 100 different malts and 60 different hop types.