A legal battle that has been brewing for years between Patagonia and Anheuser-Busch (AB) was finally settled earlier this month, when a U.S. district judge ruled that the outdoor gear company’s trademarked name was sufficiently “famous” to merit protection from the multinational beverage corporation trying to use it for a line of beers.
In 2012, AB reportedly acquired the Argentinian beer brand Cerveza Patagonia, and in 2019 introduced a new product under the name Patagonia Cerveza at a Colorado ski resort event. The beer’s logo, which features a silhouette of mountains, struck many as suspiciously close to the legacy gear brand’s historic wordmark.
Blindsided by the beer’s launch, Patagonia filed a lawsuit in 2019, which AB tried to have dismissed by claiming that Patagonia’s brand name was not famous enough to suffer trademark dilution as a result of the new product’s release. A judge denied AB’s dismissal request in September 2019, writing, “The plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that its Patagonia mark is ‘famous’ for purposes of its federal trademark dilution.”
Also at issue were AB’s tactics for marketing the beer, which bore similarities to Patagonia’s environmental brand ethic. AB promoted the beer by promising to plant a tree for every case sold, and described the product’s mission as “tree-positive.” Further complicating the dispute: Patagonia does, in fact, produce and sell its own beer, previously called Long Root, under its line of food and beverage products, Patagonia Provisions.
“Anheuser-Busch has done everything possible to make it appear as though this Patagonia beer is sold by Patagonia,” the initial lawsuit, filed in 2019, said.
A federal court document, filed on Monday, confirmed that the two companies reached a settlement agreement on March 15. Details of the agreement were not included in the filing. This week, following the settlement, Patagonia announced that its beer line would be rebranded.
“Effective immediately, [our] beers are now officially named Patagonia Provisions Pale Ale and Patagonia Provisions Wit,” a representative for the company told OBJ. “These beers, which launched in 2016 and 2019, were previously called Long Root Ale and Long Root Wit. We are also pleased to announce that later this spring, the company will release two more beers—Patagonia Provisions IPA, Patagonia Provisions Kolsch.”