There are a lot of brewery option in Florida, which is great for those looking to try out microbrews, but it has led to some clashes between them. Right now, Due South Brewing and Big Storm Brewing are battling over the rights to a trademarked logo. The owner of Due South Brewing claims that his company’s trademark has been infringed upon by Big Storm, which is using a very similar label.
Both use the term “Category” to refer to their beers, with the word being followed by a number. It is a reference to the tropical storms that often hit Florida, which are labeled in the same way.
Big Storm makes a number of Belgian-style beers that are known as the Hurricane Series. Due South makes a flagship line of India Pale Ales. It says that the labels on the Hurricane Series are too similar to those used on the IPAs because of the use of the word “Category.”
Due South claims that they gave Big Storm a cease and desist letter. They also say that Big Storm rejected the letter and said they wouldn’t stop using the label or the terms.
The owners of Big Storm have responded in the press by saying that just claiming to be able to use the word “Category” doesn’t automatically give Due South the right to be the only brewer to do so. As noted above, the term really does fit with the weather patterns in the state, making it more common in Florida than it would be elsewhere.
Cases like this can be rather complex, as there is a lot of gray area that has to be sorted out, and business owners have to know how to navigate the legal system and protect their rights.
Source: New Times, “UPDATED Due South Brewing in Trademark Dispute with Tampa’s Big Storm Brewing,” David Minsky, July 28, 2016