A craft beer brewer known as Eel River claims that it, and not a rival known as Duck Foot, has the exclusive rights to use the name "California Blonde" on beer, according to a complaint filed on Tuesday in the California.
Eel River Brewing Co. Inc. claims that Duck Foot Brewing Co. LLC is infringing a federal trademark and falsely designating the origin of a product in violation of the Lanham Act and unfairly competing in violation of California state laws, according to the complaint.
Eel River alleges that it has used "California Blonde" since at least 1996, while Duck Foot only recently began to use the mark, according to the complaint. The trademark was registered in 1999, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office documents
"As a result of defendant's conduct, plaintiff's goodwill, reputation and business has been, and continues to be, severely and irreparably damaged," the complaint reads.
Eel River seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory damages, lost profits, treble damages, costs and attorneys' fees, according to the complaint.
Representatives for Eel River and Duck Foot could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The suit against Duck River comes amid increasing trademark squabbles in the ever-growing craft beer industry - long known for its multitude of off-beat and punny names for beers and breweries.
Early last year, Lagunitas Brewing Co. sued fellow major craft brewer Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. over the use of the acronym "IPA" on labels for India pale ale - a case that Lagunitas quickly dropped after a strong backlash from beer fans. Last fall, Brooklyn Brewery filed suit against Black Ops Brewing, claiming the company's name infringed Brooklyn's own "Black Ops" beer brand.
Another craft brewer, Full Sail Brewing Co., has aggressively asserted exclusive rights to the term "Session," which Full Sail uses as a brand name but many others use generically for a style of lower-alcohol brew. Over the past two years, the company has filed 11 oppositions at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board over the use of the term in rival marks.
Eel River is represented by Evan M. Kent and Alexa L. Lewis of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP.
Counsel information for Duck Foot was not immediately available on Thursday.
The case is Eel River Brewing Co. Inc. v. Duck Foot Brewing Co. LLC, case number 2:16-cv-06873, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.