• PT & Co. Lawyers

Why registering a trade mark is important

A few years ago, a new brewery opened in a small town in Washington state. Drop Anchor Brewing was an instant hit, and within several months was distributing to over 60 locations in Washington.

It was a classic success story until Anchor Brewing Co. of San Francisco sent the little brewery a “cease and desist" letter. Anchor Brewing is a much older and larger company best known for its Anchor Steam beer. It claimed its federal trademark registration gave it the exclusive right to use the word “Anchor" in the beer industry.

Drop Anchor was forced to change its name to avoid a lawsuit. That meant getting a new logo, labels, signs, bar taps, and t-shirts. They had to work with a trademark lawyer to find an acceptable new name. One of the company founders observed that, even without litigation, the name change “costs us an arm and a leg."

The Drop Anchor story illustrates the power of a registered trademark—and the hazards of not having one.

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