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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10 Responses

  1. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    When Jack first told me about this legal action, the thought that ran through my mind was, “Geez, that’s just bizarre.” Wishing Jack, Tracy, Ramon, and Sheila loads of luck in this case. It’s a crime that they had to seek legal representation.

    Jon, thanks for bringing this to light.

  2. Avatar A Brady says:

    Something similar happened many years ago to a local daycare– Kids R Us. They had been using that name for decades, many years before the Toys R Us folks split off their kid’s clothing brand by the same name. They sued the local daycare owner. She couldn’t afford the legal expenses to fight it so gave in. The Toys Folks even got the right to veto several of her name-change ideas.

    My kids were OK with the fact that I almost never purchased anything from Toys R Us, as they held a grudge, too.

     

  3. AJ AJ says:

    WHAT A CROCK OF BALONY!!! How terribly wrong these legal situations are for the Davids of this world. Glad they have Heather working for them. She’s been a sometimes local girl since she was 12. She does good work!

  4. Avatar Alan Ernesto Phillips says:

    Corporate Bullying Again!

    Bullies, of any kind – whether they bully baby ducks with Jet Skis or bully creative small businesses like CalBrewCo. –  make me very “uncomfortable” and want to rally to support the abused.

    As a former bassist with a small local band that used to entertain there, I have seen first-hand, California Brewing Company treat its product and customers (and musicians) with great respect! I can regrettably see why those greedy, scoundrel-bullies from Florida are so hell-bent on stealing Jack’s Beach Blonde Ale: It is a really great product – as are many others!

    Go get ’em, Jack!! 

  5. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Kind of surprised that Beach Blond is their best-selling beer….but then, kind of not surprised.

    I hope California Brewing Company is counter-suing Three Daughters to make 3D stop using the name.  If 3D has only been brewing their version of Beach Blonde Ale for a year, it sounds like CBC has 3D dead to rights.  

    Florida is a cesspool of bad behavior and Blackstone Lawyers. 

    “I do not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but I believe the gentleman is a lawyer.” — Samuel Johnson

    10 Barrel Brewing Company of Bend, OR brews an IPA that they originally called SAM after its hops —  simcoe, amaarillo and mosaic.  They say they were told by their lawyers this would be a trademark issue with a large craft brewery out of the northeast (Sam Adams), so they changed it to JOE.  (The story might be an apocryphal marketing tale.)  I’m curious if JOE is a random choice, or a real person made part of the joke.

      

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      A friend read my comment and asked, “(Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) is a Blackstone Lawyer?

      Blackstone Lawyer.  A self-educated antebellum lawyer whose legal training consisted primarily in reading Blackstone’s Commentaries.  Thomas Jefferson complained that “a student finds there a smattering of everything, and his indolence easily persuades him that if he understands that book, he is a master of the whole body of law.”

       

      • Avatar EasternCounty says:

        You never know what you’re gonna learn on A News Café.  Thanks for that bit of trivia.

      • Oh, Steve, you had me at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I may steal it, with attribution, of course.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I’d like to take credit for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, but I can’t—you’ll see why if you google it.  I just did, and I’m now inspired to purchase the well-reviewed novel with that title (apparently soon to be an HBO series).

  6. Avatar Marie says:

    No surprise, this is the new norm in craft brewing.  There aren’t enough names to go around these days.  Lagunitas has sued other breweries several times now.  Moylan’s was involved in a lawsuit a while back as well.

     

    Hope this gets worked out without the lawyers making a ton on money off it!  (I’m surprised CA Brewing Co is still open honestly.   I never hear about them…)