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Michigan beer maker files federal lawsuit

Every business in Michigan and throughout the nation strives to create a brand that becomes recognizable to the public. If that happens, they also closely guard their brand. When a competitor encroaches on this product, not only can the rivaling business make money off it, but the original business can end up seeing their creation devalued.

Bell's Brewery, a Galesburg, Michigan-based beer maker, is looking to protect its brand by introducing litigation against a California company it alleges infringed on its registered trademark.

Winery Exchange Inc., based out of Novato, California, has produced a lager beer by the name of Copper BELL. A grocery story in Ann Arbor, Michigan currently carries it. The name Copper BELL is a little too close for comfort for administrators at Bell's, according to their federal lawsuit against the California company. Bell's is lobbying to have the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny the trademark application for Copper BELL. Bell's is also requesting an unspecified amount of money in the case.

The lawsuit states that Bell's Brewery sent a letter to Winery Exchange Inc. telling them to cease and desist from using the Copper BELL name and branded material. Bell's main problem with the beer is that the word 'BELL' is displayed prominently on the can with the word 'Copper' printed much smaller. This makes 'BELL' the focal point on the can.

Bell's Brewery also argues that the artwork on the Copper BELL beer can is too similar to the Bell's logo. Copper BELL features three kettles while the Bell's Brewery logo features three bells.

The lawsuit argues that Winery Exchange Inc. did these things in an attempt to trick the public into thinking that the drink was produced by Bell's Brewery. Bell's Brewery especially felt this to be the case now that Copper BELL is being sold in Michigan, where Bell's Brewery is a very popular brand.

Source:, "Bell's Brewery files trademark infringement lawsuit after Ann Arbor grocery stocks competitor," Lee Higgins, Dec. 14, 2011

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