Dave Newman /
5 January 2015Trademarks

Trademark claim against Pabst Blue Ribbon is brewing up

The city of Portland’s council is preparing legal action against US brewer Pabst Blue Ribbon over claims it has infringed its trademark.

The dispute centres on advertising material used by the brewer in the promotion of its annual music festival held in Portland in July.

In the material, the brewer used an image of a galloping unicorn on top of the name of the festival, Project Pabst. Underneath the name is the date and location of the festival. All of these are on top of an outline depicting the state of Oregon’s shape.

The city council claimed the design is similar to its own trademark of a running stag above the words “Portland Oregon” and “Old Town”. In the background there is also the shape of the state of Oregon.

The image used by the council is prominently displayed in the Old Town district. The district is listed in the US National Register of Historic Places, which means that it receives public support for the upkeep of the area.

Pabst Blue Ribbon did send a request to the council asking to use the image for the festival but it was turned down because the council said its image can only be used for events open to people of all ages. The Project Pabst  festival is only open to people over the age of 21.

The council claimed its decision to reject the request was ignored by Pabst Blue Ribbon, sparking a cease-and-desist letter from the council.

Legal action has escalated because the council claims that the brewer has continued to ignore its requests. It cites the fact that the advertising material for Pabst Blue Ribbon’s next music festival, due to occur later this year, uses the same image.

Portland’s council is known to license its image, which was revamped in 2010, for local events and businesses. Guidelines for the use of the image are published on the council website.

Neither the council nor Pabst Blue Ribbon responded immediately to a request for comment.

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