The outdoor apparel brand had sued Anheuser-Busch in California federal court in April, and characterized the brewing company’s marketing of the beer — including at events in Colorado ski resorts with sales staff wearing jackets bearing Anheuser-Busch’s “Patagonia” logo — as a clear effort to trade on Patagonia’s name and brand identity.
On Wednesday, Anheuser-Busch moved to dismiss the suit, arguing that it holds a valid, seven-year-old “Patagonia” trademark for beer, and that Patagonia was simply trying to undermine it after allegedly failing to register the name for the clothing brand’s own wine and beer products by its food company Patagonia Provisions.
“Consumers can tell beer and clothing apart,” Anheuser-Busch said in its motion to dismiss Patagonia’s suit. “This lawsuit is about plaintiffs’ attempts to take something from [Anheuser-Busch] that they have known about and coveted for years — [Anheuser-Busch]’s ‘Patagonia’ registration for beer.”
A representative for Patagonia could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Patagonia has challenged the legitimacy of Anheuser-Busch’s “Patagonia” trademark for its Cerveza Patagonia beer, accusing the brewing company of using “false evidence” in 2012 to register the trademark. The allegation dredges up some of the convoluted origins of the “Patagonia” trademark for beer, which involve another brewing company, Warsteiner Importers Agency Inc., that had sought in 2006 to use ‘Patagonia’ to brand beer. The clothing brand Patagonia is questioning if Anheuser-Busch properly took over Warsteiner’s application.
On Wednesday, Anheuser-Busch said Patagonia’s fraud claim was a “serious allegation” that it had not shown evidence to support.
“Plaintiffs cannot in good faith allege that [Anheuser-Busch] made any false, material representations to the [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office], much less that somebody did so with the intent to deceive,” Anheuser-Busch said in its filing.
The brewing company generally argues also that the U.S. PTO has determined that Patagonia refers to the South American region. Anheuser-Busch brews the Cerveza Patagonia beer in the U.S. for its domestic market, but has said it also brews it in the geographical region it is named for.
But Patagonia has argued that the issue is also one of overall presentation. It took special aim at the Anheuser-Busch ski resort pop-up events in Colorado, for instance, claiming the aesthetics and messaging there appropriated Patagonia’s outdoorsy and eco-conscious identity at venues where it said Patagonia ski apparel abound.
The Anheuser-Busch pop-ups included a booth purportedly made of reclaimed wood, and advertisements that the beer brand has a “tree-positive” mission and would plant trees for cases of beer sold.
The sum of such marketing efforts amounted to trading on “the hard-earned reputation that Patagonia Inc. has built over the last 40 years as a company dedicated to environmental conservation,” according to Patagonia’s amended complaint filed in June.
Anheuser-Busch also waved off those allegations on Wednesday, saying they “make much of two weekends of pop-up bars at Colorado ski resorts where bar staff wore promotional (i.e., not for sale) clothing.”