By Lisa Brown
St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A California craft brewer seeking the “Queen of Beer” crown is drawing opposition from the country’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch, which has long used the “King of Beers” in marketing Budweiser.
She Beverage Co., of Lancaster, Calif., applied in late December to register “The Queen of Beer” phrase with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
But on Wednesday, Anheuser-Busch filed a notice of opposition with the trademark office, seeking to block She Beverage’s application. A-B argues that “Queen of Beer” is too similar to “King of Beers.” Consumers, the brewing giant argues, might get confused and wrongly believe She Beverage beers are made by A-B.
She Beverage sells ales and lagers in California targeted to female drinkers, including Dirty Blonde Cali Citrus Amber and Brunette German Dopple Bock, and uses the “Queen of Beer” phrase in its marketing, including social media and on its website.
Its co-owner, Lupe Rose, said in a phone interview that She Beverage launched sales at retailers and restaurants in April.
Rose, whose career background is in marketing and advertising, said she began developing the idea for the company a few years ago as she saw increased demand for craft beer, but most brands were marketed to men.
“We noticed there weren’t a lot of beers targeted to women,” she said.
Her beers are higher in alcohol than many alcoholic drinks that are targeted to female drinkers, and its IPA beer is smoother than many available — qualities women prefer, according to Rose.
While “Queen of Beer” is in its marketing, She Beverage discontinued using it on some of its packaging after distributors warned it would discourage male customers from buying the beer, Rose said.
In its opposition filing, A-B argued that the patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board previously ruled in its favor when A-B sought to block a company from trademarking “Queen of Beers.”
In the previous case, the appeal board held that the phrase was confusingly similar to A-B’s trademarked “King of Beers” phrase when used in connection with beer.
“The Queen of Beer mark is virtually identical to (A-B’s) King of Beers marks with the exception of replacing the word ‘king’ with the connotatively similar word ‘queen,'” A-B wrote in its opposition filing this week, adding it has spent millions of dollars advertising and promoting beer and other merchandise with its trademark.
A-B cited the appeal board’s 2000 decision in which the body ruled that the dictionary definitions of “king” and “queen” showed that two terms were highly similar in connotation and meaning.
“It’s routine for us to oppose trademark filings to protect our intellectual property and prevent confusion among consumers,” A-B spokesman David McKenzie said Thursday via email.
For Rose, the opposition to her trademark came as a surprise since A-B hasn’t trademarked the “queen” phrase.
“There is no ‘Queen of Beer,’ and we’re a female-owned company,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate Budweiser getting their panties in a bunch.”
Rose said she’ll continue to pursue the trademark.
“It’s important for us to fight,” she said. “We are creating our own lane.”
Biographers credit Adolphus Busch, founder of the brewery, with marketing Budweiser as the “King of Beers” after his friend, Carl Conrad, developed the Bohemian-style pilsner beer in 1876. Some early advertisements referred to Budweiser as the “King of All Bottled Beers.”
St. Louis-based A-B is the U.S. unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer.