Palo Cedro Craft Brewer is in a Pitched Battle Over his Beach Blonde Ale

Beach Blonde AleThe California Brewing Co. is Beach Blonde Ale. “It’s our flagship; this is who we are,” said co-owner Jack Goschke. “Beach Blonde Ale is our most popular ale. It’s our No. 1 selling beer.”

Goschke applied for a trademark in late 2007 and on Oct. 7, 2008, Beach Blonde Ale was officially registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Kurt Hoffmann of Abra Marketing designed a catchy Marilyn Monroe-inspired label for the beer.

In the following six years leading up to the opening of California Brewing Co.’s restaurant and taphouse in Palo Cedro, the Beach Blonde Ale design showed up on shirts and other swag and it was applied to beer packaged up for prospective investors.

“We’ve been using it steadily ever since. It’s what we present first and foremost,” Goschke said. “We always bring it out to brew fests.”

Goschke takes a lot of pride in Beach Blonde Ale and its foundational role in the success of his 18-month-old business. Which makes his current fight with a Florida brewer that much harder to stomach.

Mike Harting, the founder of 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg, Fla., has been brewing a Beach Blonde Ale for about a year. He sought to have the name trademarked in December 2014. And then he went after Goschke and his Beach Blonde Ale.

Harting’s attorney is challenging California Brewing Co.’s rights to the Beach Blonde Ale name, claiming Goschke and his partners have not used the name in commerce as required to protect an active trademark.

The Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of Goschke, but Harting has appealed and a hearing is pending. Goschke now fears that he is on the wrong end of a David-versus-Goliath battle and that he may ultimately be forced to surrender his beloved Beach Blonde Ale name.

“It’s a very odd battle to be in, dealing with somebody clear across the United States who has never given us the courtesy of a phone call. It was just bang-zoom, right to court. It’s very unusual in this industry for one company to do that to another company. It’s very stunning. If you’re going to mess around like that in the craft beer industry, you don’t belong in it,” Goschke said.

Goschke has retained former Redding resident Heather Bennett as his attorney. Bennett is a Los Angeles-based intellectual property and brand development attorney who specializes in copyright and trademark issues.

“Heather’s been working on it. We’ll do the best with what we have, but it takes time and money. It’s just an inherently unfair thing … we did our due diligence. We’ve done everything by the book, and done them legally. We’re out here in the middle of nowhere. This is just really bizarre to have a company in the craft brew industry do something like this. It’s just really not done.”

“It’s frustrating. If you would have done your research, you would have realized the name was taken. Now it’s become a legal battle. They want to take the name from us and cancel the trademark and use the name for themselves,” Goschke said.

“We make the beer, we have it in our taproom, and we’ve been using it in commerce since 2008. We’re just not putting a label on beer and shipping it across state lines. That is their argument, but there is nothing that says we have to do that,” Goschke said.

Plans are in place for increasing production and bottling most of California Brewing Co.’s 10 styles of beer, “but right now we’re focused on the restaurant, on customer service, food quality, the menu, trying out new beers—what most fledgling breweries do.”

California Brewing Co. is located at 9348H Deschutes Road in the Holiday Market Shopping Center. For hours of operation and other information, visit www.californiabrewingcompany.com

Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

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