Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia sues Anheuser-Busch over ‘copycat’ beer brand

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Anheuser-Busch's Patagonia beer was launched in Colorado: where Patagonia says its apparel is widely used and recognized. Stock pic: getty/viewapart
Anheuser-Busch's Patagonia beer was launched in Colorado: where Patagonia says its apparel is widely used and recognized. Stock pic: getty/viewapart
Outdoor clothing and gear brand Patagonia, Inc has filed a lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch: accusing the beer giant of ‘attempting to copy Patagonia’s famous brand identity’ with its Patagonia beer brand.

AB InBev launched the beer ‘Patagonia’ in the US last year under the ‘Patagonia Brewing Company’.

But the outdoor clothing and gear brand Patagonia, Inc alleges that the name, logo and marketing methods used by the beer brand all seek to take advantage of its branding and reputation.

Anheuser-Busch - which is part of the world's largest brewer AB InBev and is behind brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Leffe - responds that the lawsuit is ‘without merit’ and says it will defend its trademark rights.

‘Copycat’ brand

Anheuser-Busch’s Patagonia beer logo uses the name 'Patagonia' beneath a mountain silhouette. In launching the beer at ski resorts in Colorado, merchandise was distributed with the logo, and the company said it would plant one tree for every case of beer purchased, says Patagonia, Inc in its lawsuit. 

Patagonia, Inc accuses Anheuser-Busch of doing ‘everything possible to make it appear as though this Patagonia beer is sold by Patagonia’.

“In launching its PATAGONIA beer, AB deliberately has attempted to take advantage of the tremendous goodwill that Patagonia, Inc. and Patagonia Provisions, Inc. have cultivated in their brand, and the hard-earned reputation that Patagonia, Inc. has built over the last forty years as a company dedicated to environmental conservation," ​writes Patagonia in the lawsuit filed this week. 

“AB has gone as far as creating a logo that is strikingly similar to Patagonia’s famous mountain silhouette logo that has appeared continuously for decades on millions of products.

"AB has tried to connect its beer with environmental conservation by claiming to plant a tree for each case of beer sold, an initiative that Patagonia would welcome but for the fact that AB is clearly attempting to copy Patagonia’s famous brand identity to confuse consumers.

“AB has launched its copycat brand at ski resorts where Patagonia, Inc.’s ski apparel is widely used and universally recognized in further attempts to draft off Patagonia’s goodwill. And AB has dressed its sales people in down jackets and given out beanies, t-shirts, and scarves bearing AB’s PATAGONIA logo—all products that Patagonia sells, including in its stores in the very towns where AB has launched its beer.

“In short, AB has done everything possible to make it appear as though this PATAGONIA beer is sold by Patagonia.”  

patagonia inset
The lawsuit filed by Patagonia, Inc illustrates the Anheuser-Busch brand (left) and Patagonia, Inc (right)

‘Jagged windswept peaks’

Headquartered in California, Patagonia was founded in the late 1960s and chose the Patagonia trademark to ‘call to mind romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors’.

It says that its brand and logo have become ‘among the most identifiable brands in the world’.

Patagonia has – through its food business Patagonia Provisions, Inc – been selling its own beer called Long Root​ since 2016, using a perennial grain called Kernza instead of traditional barley.

Brand reputation

In the lawsuit, Patagonia alleges that Anheuser-Busch’s activities have caused consumer confusion in the marketplace - ‘causing a range of damages including depriving Plaintiffs of their right to control the reputation associated with their brands and market’ – as well as ‘causing AB to capture profits, premiums and goodwill that are only available due to its exploitation of the Patagonia brand, all to the detriment of deceived consumers and Patagonia’.

“Patagonia is filing this lawsuit to stop AB from maintaining its unlawful trademark registration, from selling PATAGONIA beer, and to prevent AB from going to such great lengths to pass itself off as Patagonia, all of which infringes, dilutes, and usurps the goodwill in Patagonia’s famous Patagonia trademarks, as well as the reputation it has built over the last four decades,” ​continues the brand.

Responding to the lawsuit, a statement from Anheuser-Busch says: “We are aware of this lawsuit and believe it to be without merit.  We will vigorously defend our trademark rights.”

The case is Patagonia, Inc and Patagonia Provisions, Inc (Plaintiffs) v Anheuser-Busch LLC dba Patagonia Brewing Co. (Defendant): case no 2:19-cv-02702 filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California Western Division Los Angeles.  

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