You’re familiar with the story: a young but powerful wizard, born with magical powers, wakes up to find out he’s in a life-and-death battle with He Who Must Not Be Named.
In this case, though, we’re not talking about Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. Rather, the story is about Hogshead Brewery, a three-year-old Denver beer-maker with a growing reputation for English-style cask ales, which could face a trademark scare over its name from none other than entertainment conglomerate Warner Bros. Entertainment, which opened a Harry Potter-themed amusement park last year inside Universal Orlando Resort in Florida.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley is described by Warner Bros. as being “filled with incredible entertainment experiences for the whole family. You arrive aboard the Hogwarts Express…and are transported into a spectacularly themed environment. The new area includes incredible shops with windows full of magical surprises, authentic food and beverages, a towering dragon that breathes fire and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, a new attraction unlike any other.”
Other experiences include touring Hogwarts castle, shopping in Hogsmeade, dining at the Three Broomsticks and sampling (non-alcoholic) Butterbeer at…the Hog’s Head Pub. Yes, the Hog’s Head Pub. Uh-oh.
On July 24, Warner Bros. filed a notice with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office asking to be given time “to file a notice of opposition against” three trademarks that Hogshead Brewery (also known as Hogshead 54) was awarded a month ago for its name and logo.
Although the paperwork doesn’t mention why Warner Bros. is concerned about the name of a neighborhood brewery in Denver, the likely reason is the similarity between the names Hog’s Head Pub and Hogshead Brewery.
A spokeswoman for Warner Bros. says the company can’t comment on the case. Large corporations file these notices regularly and as a matter of course when it comes to their intellectual property, but they don't always pursue the cases. In this situation, it doesn't appear that Warner Bros owns any trademarks for the Hogs Head Pub.
An attorney for Hogshead, which is located at 4460 West 29th Avenue, didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment.
Warner Bros. has to decide whether to file an actual protest by August 29.
If it does, an owl will deliver the notice.