Lawsuit pits Not Your Father's Root Beer vs. competitor

  • Wauconda's Small Town Brewery claims in a federal lawsuit that a competitor should stop improperly using a name on an alcoholic beverage that's too similar to the moniker of its popular Not Your Father's Root Beer.

    Wauconda's Small Town Brewery claims in a federal lawsuit that a competitor should stop improperly using a name on an alcoholic beverage that's too similar to the moniker of its popular Not Your Father's Root Beer. Courtesy of John Kelly

  • This image is part of a federal lawsuit Wauconda's Small Town Brewery filed against Milwaukee-area Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc. Small Town claims in the suit Sprecher's use of "Not Your Grandaddy's Root Beer ... Or Maybe It Is" slogan improperly infringes on its trademark for Not Your Father's Root Beer. The companies' products in the suit are alcoholic root beers.

      This image is part of a federal lawsuit Wauconda's Small Town Brewery filed against Milwaukee-area Sprecher Brewing Co. Inc. Small Town claims in the suit Sprecher's use of "Not Your Grandaddy's Root Beer ... Or Maybe It Is" slogan improperly infringes on its trademark for Not Your Father's Root Beer. The companies' products in the suit are alcoholic root beers. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/2/2015 4:53 PM

Wauconda's Small Town Brewery claims in a federal lawsuit that a competitor should stop improperly using a name on an alcoholic beverage that's too similar to the moniker of its popular Not Your Father's Root Beer.

Small Town lodged the complaint in U.S. District Court in Chicago against suburban Milwaukee-based Sprecher Brewing Company Inc. Small Town contends Sprecher is committing trademark infringement with a slogan on its hard root beer.

 

According to the federal complaint filed last week, Sprecher's "Not Your Grandaddy's Root Beer ... Or Maybe It Is" tagline on the side of four-pack cardboard carriers and shipping boxes is too close to Small Town's Not Your Father's Root Beer trademarked product name.

"Upon information and belief, (Sprecher's) use of 'Not Your Grandaddy's Root Beer' is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive in light of the Not Your Father's and Not Your Father's Root Beer marks and constitutes trademark infringement," Small Town's lawsuit reads in part.

Sprecher President Jeff Hamilton issued a statement Wednesday to the Daily Herald in regard to Small Town's accusations.

"Sprecher Brewing Company respects and complies with all applicable laws and regulations as we have with regards to the violation of trademarks alleged in this filing. We are confident that we will prevail if Small Town chooses to continue with the action," Hamilton said.

Small Town claims Sprecher is committing infringement of a federally registered trademark, engaging in unfair competition and using deceptive trade practices under Illinois law as part of the five-count complaint. Small Town seeks unspecified damages and profits Sprecher has made since introducing its hard root beer in January 2013, along with a permanent injunction prohibiting the competition from using the allegedly infringing phrases or the "Not Your" marks.

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Not Your Father's Root Beer was first used with a trademark in connection with beverage sales in April 2012, according to the suit filed Nov. 25. Not Your Father's Root Beer initially was sold only in Chicago, but has expanded to nationwide distribution.

Small Town's Not Your Father's Root Beer topped $7.5 million in retail sales through mid-June -- not including sales at liquor stores, bars or restaurants -- placing it among the fastest growing products in craft beer, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI.

Other alcoholic beverages produced by Small Town Brewery have trademarks for "Not Your" in the names. The list includes Not Your Father's Ginger Ale and Not Your Mom's Apple Pie, according to the suit that has supporting documents attached.

Tim Kovac, brewmaster and owner of Small Town, could not be reached for comment.

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