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Infringement of Copyright, Patent, Trademark for breweries

As an insurance agent for breweries and other related businesses I have a Google alert setup for brewery lawsuits so I can track trends in the industry. Over the past few weeks and months I have seen a large increase in trademark infringement lawsuits and was ready to put together a post when I came across this story from The Bulletin:

Naming a beer isn’t that easy

The article brings to light the many challenges of naming a beer and does a great job citing actual cases. Rather than rehashing what Rick Armon already reviewed I will share some links and info on the insurance implications.

Most general liability policies include a very specific exclusion for “Infringement of Copyright, Patent, Trademark or Trade Secret” but often times give back coverage for infringement in your advertisement. Because of this lawsuits relating to infringement cases may not be covered by your general liability insurance. With this in mind be very careful when naming your brewery and/or your beers.

Here are a couple of sites that may be helpful to determine if a trademark exists:

Unites States Patent and Trademark Office Electronic Search System

Trademark Hound

If all trademark suits were handled the way Jack Daniel’s handles them the insurance exclusion really wouldn’t be an issue but don’t count on it. Read article about Jack Daniel’s polite cease and desist letter here and see the actual letter here.

James Sanborn, CIC, CRM
Insurance Guy Beer Blog & New England Beer Insurance

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Social Media Marketing

Social media is a great marketing tool for any business and breweries are no exception. By using Twitter, Facebook, Tumlr and the many other social media sites breweries are able to stay connected with their customers and build brand loyalty.

The TTB recently released a circular relating to social media marketing of alcoholic beverages and The Beer Babe brought it to my attention. This circular reviews the do’s and dont’s of marketing your brewery via social media and what you see may surprise you.

Department of the Treasury – TTB Circular 2013-01

The bottom line is social media has the same rules and regulations as TV or print media with the same required and prohibited statements.

27 CFR Part 7 – §7.52 – Mandatory Statements (Breweries)

27 CFR Part 7 – §7.54 – Prohibited Statements (Breweries)

Brochure from the TTB about advertising

I did a quick review of some brewery clients social media pages and found most Facebook pages included the required information as part of the About page however most Twitter pages did not due to the limited space. I would also encourage brewers to include a statement that by following or liking the page you agree that you are 21+.

The requirements differ slightly for wineries and distillers, see links below:

27 CFR Part 4 – § 4.62 – Mandatory Statements (Wineries)

27 CFR Part 4 – § 4.64 – Prohibited Practices (Wineries)

27 CFR Part 5 – § 5.63 – Mandatory Statements (Distillers)

27 CFR Part 5 – § 5.65 – Prohibited Practices (Distillers)

While the TTB does not require approval of advertising they do offer a free pre-clearance service to look for compliance issues and they do monitor ads. I assume fines or other penalties could be levied if the required statements are not in place.

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Chemical Storage

This news story is a great reminder to all businesses on proper storage of chemicals. Even though the solution here was a very low 2% it was still enough to cause damage to the electrical panel, evacuate all employees and shut down the brewery for a short time.

Caustic chemical spill at brewery causes chemical haze, electrical short and small explosion. Click here to read the full story from the Utica Observer Dispatch.

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Employee steals $15,000 in beer from employer

BottlesEmployee theft happens more frequently than most employers think and its not always money they are stealing. According to the Denver Post an employee of Avery Brewing Company has been arrested on charges of stealing approximately $15,000 in beer from the brewery. If this happened to you would your insurance cover the loss?

Contact me today for a review of your insurance program.

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Split Point Change


The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) announced a change to the split point calculation starting in most States on January 1, 2013. This change will affect your experience rating even if you have not had any claims.

Confused yet? These types of changes are why you need an experienced insurance agent that keeps up with changes in the industry and will work to help you understand how these changes will affect your business. Using software programs specifically designed to estimate changes in your experience rating I can predict the increase or decrease in your rating and estimate the impact on your insurance premiums.

Insurance is a complex and ever changing business, with 20 years experience in the business and a great support staff we will do our very best to service all your insurance needs. Contact me today to setup a review of your brewery insurance program.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs /

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Convenience store to pay $15,000,000+

If you business is sued for millions of dollars where would it come from? Most liability insurance policies stop at one or two million dollars but you can purchase umbrella liability to protect against very large lawsuits like this one in Alabama.

Alabama jury awards $15,000,000

Umbrella liability is inexpensive and something all types of businesses should consider. Contact me today for a review of all your business insurance needs.


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Weather Event Insurance

Snowstorm: A day after Christmas 2012

Photo Rights belong to Daveynin – click the image for more photos.

A blizzard warning has been issued for much of the North East and there is a major beer festival scheduled for this weekend in Boston. Many event planners overlook the impact weather can have on their event, all that planning, ticket sales, sponsorship revenues, etc can all be undone by mother nature.

Fortunately you can buy insurance for this and for indoor festivals it is surprisingly inexpensive. During the planning of your next event take a minute and think about what happens if a blizzard, hurricane or other major weather event causes travel delays or shuts down public transportation. Then contact me for options to transfer this risk to the insurance company.

As with all insurance policies there are limitations, exclusions and many factors that are used in the rating of the policy. I will help guide you to the best option for your event.

James Sanborn, CIC, CRM
New England Beer Insurance
A Division of GHM Agency

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