Dec. 20, 2017

   As a law firm based in Minneapolis, we’re looking forward to having the Super Bowl in town this year.  As we get closer to the game, our brewery and distillery clients have been asking us about advertising for the Super Bowl.  Generally, breweries, bars, distilleries, restaurants, etc. have to be careful about referring specifically […]

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One Termination Provision (Among Many) You Want in Your Distribution Agreement

Oct. 05, 2017

In 2015 and 2016, AB InBev offered an “incentive program” for distributors.  Generally, beer distributors are contractually required to spend a certain amount to advertise AB InBev beers each year.  Under its incentive program, AB InBev offered to refund seventy-five percent (75%) of these marketing funds if AB InBev beers made up ninety-eight percent (98%) […]

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A Tale of Two Coasts: Beer Distribution Laws in New York and California and What They Mean for Breweries Everywhere

Aug. 31, 2017

Most state laws concerning beer distribution allow for termination of a distribution contract only for “good cause.”  It sounds reasonable, but many statutes define “good cause” in a way that makes terminating a beer distributor – even a poorly performing distributor – very difficult and very expensive.   New York and California, however, have beer […]

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What the F*ck Can I Name My Beer, Spirit, or Wine?

Jul. 27, 2017

According to the Supreme Court Ruling on Trademark Law, It Doesn’t Matter! In June 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that prohibits the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in certain situations from rejecting potentially offensive trademark requests based on the grounds that it may be potentially disparaging. One issue that the court […]

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Tip Pooling Among Employees: Do Not Jump Right In

Jul. 19, 2017

Last week, a judge ruled in favor of a former bartender from Surly Brewing Co., who filed suit against the brewery on behalf of over 100 current and former bartenders and wait staff who have worked at Surly starting in 2014.  The lawsuit claimed that Surly violated Minnesota law by requiring servers and bartenders to […]

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Descriptive Trademark Vs. Suggestive Trademark Issues: Mixed Culture

Jul. 11, 2017

Fair State Brewing Cooperative throws an annual party celebrating wild, sour, and mixed fermentation beers entitled “Mixed Culture,” a name they wanted to make sure was protected. Thus a trademark application was filed with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). The PTO, however, initially responded that the mark was “merely descriptive.” In response to the […]

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Things to Consider When Opening a Brewery: Dos & Don’ts of Business Relationships

Jun. 19, 2017

Starting a brewery takes passion, bravery, a solid business plan, and plenty of capital. Don’t forget about familiarizing yourself with the local regulatory environment and zoning laws. Amidst all the stress and excitement — and paperwork — of opening a brewery, one thing you may forget to consider is making friends with your neighbors. We’re […]

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Inherent Vice and Vertical Integration

May. 18, 2017

If you’ve read Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice or seen the Paul Thomas Anderson film based on the novel, you know a little bit about vertical integration.  In the novel, the Golden Fang – a shady conglomerate – imports and sells heroin to users, operates a massive dental operation to help heroin and other drug addicts […]

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Craft Beer Industry Growth Continues

Apr. 04, 2017

The Brewers Association (BA), a trade association representing small and independent craft brewers, released data on March 28, 2017 on the growth of craft brewing in the U.S.  There were over 5,300 breweries operating during the year.  For some perspective, that means there are nearly as many craft breweries in the U.S. as there are […]

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Third Party Beer Distribution — Yay or Nay?

Mar. 03, 2017

Brewers, especially new brewers, face the issue of whether to self distribute their product or rely on a third party beer distributor. Luckily enough, most states give you the right to choose. In Minnesota, for example, you can be licensed to self distribute instead of partnering with a distributor, up to a certain brewing and […]

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