Joel came up with a new name to chase. So we gave it to our lawyer to see if there would be any legal issues with this new name. He is not a trademark lawyer but has contacts that are. He said the name is clear for NY but there are two trademarks for the two words we want to use and one of them is for “alcoholic beverages except beer” so I am not sure what that means. Can we still use the name? Is it like Which Craft where if we get our doors open with the name we have concurrent use and they can’t make us change it? Should we contact them and check? Where are they located? Does that matter?
Also, in the excitement of landing on a second name I purchased websites and paid for a redesign of our logo… so if this trademark holds can I get my money back for that? (I know the answer to this one)
We met with our contractor on 3/17 and got the disastrous blow of the build out budget being THREE TIMES what we expected. This sort of made our decision for us about fighting for our name. We might as well spend the money on the shop and not intellectual property. We have made a name for ourselves for sure but we can communicate a name change effectively so that all of those people following us, excited for our opening will be just as supportive of us with our new name.
So as we lick our wounds from the contractor meeting we will brainstorm new names for the shop… L
Had another call with our Lawyer. He has gotten word from the trademark lawyer and they found out some more interesting news. It appears there is a third player in this trademark game. A company in New Mexico is coming up with an App that has to do with beer and has filed for trademark before Rochester has. So really they could send the same letter to Rochester that Rochester sent to us… New Mexico has up to 4 more months to complete their trademark process. If we (or Rochester) can get our doors open before then, we may be safe from New Mexico or Rochester “taking” our name from us. So we could push to open before Rochester does and before New Mexico finishes the trademark process and then Rochester wouldn’t have a case and we would just have to worry about New Mexico coming after either of us. If we don’t open before Rochester does then we would just be screwed.
To push to open as fast as we can means spending a lot more money on items that would have to change if we did not make the time cut off or if we lost in court – signs, growlers, wasted publicity.
As I posted before, changing our name now would mean a lot less expenses and time rather than waiting until we are open. Sort of like cutting your loses and moving on.
There is just so much risk! Can we open before Rochester? Can we open before New Mexico finishes trademarking? Can we win in court?
More to think about.
We have gotten word from our lawyer that this other business no longer wants to do a “concurrent use” agreement with us. They are thinking about future franchising of their business and considering spreading to the Buffalo and Syracuse region and want to avoid confusion. Right now we are trying to decipher what this entails.
- Is this a bluff? Do they just want to see if we will give in?
- We could fight them and have a pretty good case for having our LLC before they filed for trademark. But this would cost us a LOT of legal fees.
- We could cave and change our name… and that would mean:
- Change our business cards
- Change our e-mail address
- Change our website
- Change our logo
- Change our license application (costing thousands of dollars)
- Change our bank account
- File for a new LLC
- Change our financing application
- A way sort of around the previous option would be to do a DBA (doing business as) in a different name. Then we could leave all our legal items as is and just change social media and business cards and anything that is presented to the public. We are checking with our Lawyer now to see if that would solve the issue.
Needless to say, there have been a lot of tears shed over this debacle. And many many hours of research and conversations.
All in the name of beer in New York State.
I would like to take you on the adventure that has been the last couple months for us regarding our legal name. But I am going to give you this adventure in pieces so you can pause and digest like we had to each time we got more information. Mind you, we had to pause a lot longer for most of this, but still, I would like you to come with me back on this adventure! P.S. sorry we couldn’t share this sooner but with this being a public blog I didn’t want to jeopardize our position.
We got a cease and desist letter before traveling to Vietnam that requested we stop using our LLC name “Which Craft Bottle Shop”
This was extremely heartbreaking and deflating. I have never had experience with a letter like this so I did not know how serious it can be. We sent it to our lawyer right away. I talked to him about calling off our trip to Vietnam but he assured us that he would communicate with their lawyers while we were away and they would be able to proceed without us for a couple weeks.
We got back and contacted our lawyer again. He said he spoke to their lawyer and they were very understanding. There had been some confusion. It turns out the license that we are in the process of purchasing (so our name is some what affiliated with this license if you are looking it up on the SLA site) is actually currently registered in Rochester. So when they looked up the address and our name we were within blocks of each other. This news alarmed them and they wanted to get ahead of it as anyone would. Part of me wonders why they wouldn’t just reach out to us personally but in hindsight I see that it is better to work through our lawyers for these complex situations. Our lawyer said that their lawyer was very calm and collect and not pushy at all. He seemed surprised a little by this since a lot of times trademark lawyers just try to scare you off with their aggressive tactics. That was encouraging. He also said that they acknowledged the timeline:
- Spring 2016 – They got their LLC
- Fall 2016 – We got our LLC
- Winter 2016/2017 – They filed for Trademark
So technically we got our LLC before they filed for trademark so we have a case for “concurrent use” of the name (also somewhat because neither of us are open yet).
So it seemed as if we get home to some good news!
To be continued….
We went to the shop today to take a peak at the site! Looks like they have started digging to install our grease trap :-O
So they have to put in a 6 gallon grease trap because Camillus requires it even though we are not serving food. Stinks that they have to dig up all of the floor but exciting that they have started!
They also have this neat “coming soon” sign on our front door!!
Gonna have to start checking every couple days now! Who wants to go with me? 😛
My parents are finally on their way back north from spending the winter in Florida and yesterday they stopped in Asheville, NC . Now I am not sure how much you all know about Asheville but it is has an exploding beer scene. Joel and I were pretty jealous that they got to go to New Belgium, Green Man, Wicked Weed and Catawba!! So cool! And each time they got somewhere they called us and we ordered some beers!! Our hope is to give them away to big spenders or raffle them off at the grand opening.
Can’t wait to see our loot!! I mean, my parents 😛
Since it is 4/20…
What is the “dankest” beer you have had?
A lot of times when I think of a dank beer I think of wet-hopping a beer. One of my favorites is the So Fresh & So Green Green by Terrapin. I had it first back in November and I could really go for some more 🙂
And just like that… 4 weeks turns into at least 6… try not to cry… try not to cry… try not to cry.
Cooler is going to take 6 weeks to get.
Our new contractor met with the town yesterday to get the permits to start work in our shop!!!! They gave a verbal “you got it dude” and we hope to get the one in writing today. That means we could start the build out TOMORROW!!!!!!! Do you hear that folks!?!?!? We might actually start our part of the build out TOMORROW :-O