USA: Shipyard Brewing files trademark lawsuit against Shiphead beer

Maine’s largest beer producer, Shipyard Brewing Company based in the state’s largest city Portland has filed a law suit against the much smaller Logboat Brewing Company from Columbia, Missouri in respect to their cbeer.

Shipyard claims that the brand name Shiphead  is visually and phonetically "nearly identical" to its own trademark and that Shipyard has already used for a long time the terms ship and head in many of its beer names. For example, the brewery sells beers named Shipyard Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Melonhead and Shipyard Applehead.

In contrast to normal trademark lawsuits, the claim is not only based on the name of the product or the brewery but also on the packaging. “Logboat’s packaging uses colors that are identical to the colors that Shipyard uses for its packaging,” the lawsuit claims. “In addition, the logos are conceptually similar in that … the woman depicted on Logboat’s beer is wearing a schooner on her head that is highly similar to Shipyard’s federally registered and incontestable Schooner logo, hence ‘Shiphead.’ ”

Shipyard founder and owner Fred Forsley argued that his 23-year-old company had “a lot of hard-earned brand recognition in our trademarks,” much in contrast to the only four-year-old Missouri brewery. His company had apparently been watching Logboat since its beginning and in 2015 had stopped the use of the name The Shipyard for Logboat’s outside beer garden.

Forsley said that he has for long tried to solve issues with Logboat in a "friendly, brewer-to-brewer" manner. He still prefers to settle the matter out of court but was now forced “to take this next step to protect our trademarks and the hard-earned value they have to us."

The accused responded in an official statement on its website from May 16th 2017 that “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.”

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