Patagonia, Anheuser-Busch Settle Beer Label Trademark Spat

The parties settled Patagonia’s lawsuit alleging beer giant Anheuser-Busch appropriated the brand and environmentalist identity of the outdoor clothier.

The Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis. (Photo by Pp391 from Wikimedia Commons via Courthouse News)

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Outdoor clothing and gear retailer Patagonia reached a settlement with global beer producer Anheuser-Busch over a trademark lawsuit claiming the “Patagonia” beer label appropriated the outdoor brand’s identity, according to court briefs filed Monday.

Patagonia sued Anheuser-Busch in 2019 claiming the brewer began selling “Patagonia Beer” under the alternate business name Patagonia Brewing Company and in bottles featuring a logo strikingly similar to Patagonia’s mountain backdrop design.

A federal judge ruled later that year Anheuser-Busch must face claims it unlawfully appropriated Patagonia’s brand.

Both parties filed a joint stipulation Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California seeking to dismiss the lawsuit after having reached a settlement on March 15.

Details of the settlement were not immediately available.

Patagonia launched Patagonia Provisions in 2012 selling environmentally friendly goods such as jerky, granola, salmon and beer.

Anheuser-Busch launched “Patagonia” beer at a Colorado ski resort, where employees clad in black down jackets handed out logo scarves and beanies to customers and said the beer was part of its “tree positive” mission.

California-based Patagonia was started in the 1960s and has since become a leading developer and retailer of outdoor sports apparel and gear. The company has gained recognition for its work to stem the use of pesticides in conventional cotton production and pledging money for environmentalist causes, including donating $10 million from Black Friday sales in 2016.

In its federal lawsuit, Patagonia claimed Anheuser-Busch submitted false evidence to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office in order to obtain a “Patagonia” trademark previously held — and unused — by German beermaker Warsteiner.

Anheuser-Busch moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the “Patagonia” mark is not sufficiently “famous” or widely disseminated to qualify for federal trademark protections.

U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips disagreed, finding Patagonia had, at that stage in the proceedings, sufficiently shown its mark is both “famous and distinctive” and that promotion of its brand has factored in its $10 billion in sales since 1985.

Phillips also denied Anheuser-Busch’s bid to dismiss on grounds that Patagonia failed to show that customers would associate their beer with its clothing and its brand of environmentalism. 

Attorneys for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the settlement.

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