Comrade Brewing's Superpower IPA is super-good, but it's not a superfood. That's the ruling of the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which shot down a claim by the Wonderful Company, which makes POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, that consumers could confuse the beer with their pomegranate juice.
POM uses the trademarked slogan “Antioxidant Superpower” and had argued that "the two types of beverage were closely related for trademark purposes," according to a statement from BeerAttorney.com, a local intellectual-law firm that specializes in beer and represented Comrade. "In past cases, the board has held that wine and spirits are closely related to beer in the minds [of consumers]."
“Simply put, opposer has not submitted sufficient evidence that consumers are accustomed to encountering these goods under the same mark,” Judge Peter W. Cataldo wrote in the TTAB's decision. “Particularly in light of the differences between the goods but also because the two marks had key differences in appearance, the board sided with Comrade Brewing.”
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Comrade has been brewing Superpower regularly since the brewery opened in 2014 and filed for a trademark in February 2017. Brewery owner David Lin says the battle was worth the cost.
"Superpower has made a good name for us. We are known for that beer, and we would have wanted to keep using it," he explains. If the decision had gone differently, though, Comrade was ready with several other plans, including a name change or a public-relations campaign skewering the Wonderful Company.
Now, Comrade will file for the trademark all over again.
“Operating this brewery has thrown us a lot of curveballs,” Lin says. “If I’m being completely honest, the potential confusion between antioxidant juice and craft beer was more surprising to me than the day someone crashed their truck through our front door. We’re going to laugh this one off over a couple of Superpowers.”