Tennessee lovers of 1980’s music may remember the band Guns N’ Roses. While it may not enjoy the same fame it did back then, the band’s name remains out there. Recently, a brewery in another state apparently attempted to capitalize on the band’s fame by using it to name one of its products, which could constitute a violation of intellectual property laws.
In 2018, the brewing company attempted to trademark the name, “Guns ‘N’ Rose” for one of its ales. When the band’s manager got wind of the application, he contacted the brewing company, which subsequently withdrew the application. However, the brewery refused to stop using the name. The band is afraid consumers will assume a connection between the hard rock group and the brewery.
When Oskar Blues brewery out of Colorado continued to sell the product, Guns N’ Roses went to the courts in an attempt to obtain an injunction to prevent further sales of the ale, the surrender of any promotional products and other damages. This is not the first band to allege trademark infringement by another company. It happens more often than people realize. Some believe that even the slightest change in name will not violate another party’s trademark.
However, under intellectual property law, names cannot be substantially similar. If someone attempts to use a name that is too similar to another company’s name, it risks becoming the subject of a trademark infringement lawsuit. For this reason, the importance of researching a name to make sure it will not violate the law cannot be stressed enough. With the advent of the internet, it may no longer be enough to conduct a search within Tennessee only. A nationwide search would be a better place to start.