'Guns ‘N’ Rosé' Beer: Sounds Familiar?

A few months back, Nirvana instituted proceedings against Marc Jacobs for copyright infringement and various common law trade mark claims s under the Lanham Act and California state law – see here for the IPKat report. Guns N' Roses (“GNR”) is another rock and roll band to enter a federal district courtroom in California over an unauthorised use of their trade mark.

In 1984, GNR’s co-founders Tracii Guns and Axl Rose, combined their respective bands-- ‘LA Guns’ and ‘Hollywood Rose’, to form the band ‘Guns N’ Roses’. Since the formation, GNR has achieved national and international fame and commercial success, which has earned for its name world-wide recognition. GNR is the owner of three federal trade mark registrations for the mark GUNS N’ ROSES, including for Class 25 (clothing, namely, T-shirts, shirts, hats, caps, bandannas, sweatpants, and thermal shirts).Since 2018, a Colorado brewery, Oskar Blues, has been marketing and selling throughout the United States 'Guns ‘N’ Rosé' beer and associated memorabilia containing the 'Guns ‘N’ Rosé' logo, such as hats, t-shirts, pint glasses, stickers, buttons, and bandanas. GNR has not given approval, a license, or consent to such uses.

In 2018, Oskar Blues tried to register GUNS N ROSE name for beer but the band intervened requesting that, inter alia, the brewers cease using GUNS N ROSE or any other marks “confusingly similar” to the GUNS N’ ROSES mark, and abandon their trade mark application. Following GNR’s opposition filed before the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the application was abandoned but the beer, clothing and other products remained on the market. After multiple requests to cease sales and marketing, the brewers agreed to stop, but not until March of 2020.

This did not go down well with the musicians, resulting in a complaint filed with the federal district court in Los Angeles. The complaint alleged trade mark and common law infringement, false designation of origin, and trade mark dilution, all under the Lanham Act, unfair competition (engagement in unlawful business practices) under the California Business and Professions Code, and misappropriation of the right of publicity in violation of the California Civil Code and state common law.

In their complaint, GNR contend that the consumers of GUNS ‘N’ ROSÉ beer are confused as to the connection of the alcoholic beverage with the band, given that similar associations are a common practice, with various “hard rock,” “heavy metal,” and “rock and roll” bands having expanded or intending to expand their activities into the alcoholic beverages industry. GNR allege that the defendant intended to associate itself and its products with GNR in order to freeride on GNR’s goodwill, prestige, and reputation. 

Image Credits: Oskar Blues Brewery
'Guns ‘N’ Rosé' Beer: Sounds Familiar? 'Guns ‘N’ Rosé' Beer: Sounds Familiar? Reviewed by Ieva Giedrimaite on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. There are indeed quite a few examples of bands expanding into the alcoholic beverage industry. For example, American pop rock band Hanson, best known for their 1997 hit song MMMBop, launched their own brand of beer called Mmmhops in 2013.


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