Earlier this month, legendary rock group Guns N’ Roses filed suit against Canarchy Craft Brewing Collective’s Oskar Blues Brewery over their use of the name “Guns ‘N’ Rosé” for their rosé ale. Band members claim the name allows Oskar Blues to trade on the band’s goodwill and implies the group endorses the product.
Background of the dispute
Oskar Blues Brewery began selling their “Guns ‘N’ Rosé” ale in the early months of 2018 and filed a trademark application for the logo in August. Guns N’ Roses (which refer to their business entity as “GNR”) filed an opposition to the application, which Canarchy then withdrew in May of 2019. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sustained the opposition just a few days later.
According to the complaint, the band attempted to resolve this matter informally in December by instructing their business manager to contact the CEO of Oskar Blues. However, it seems those efforts were fruitless.
GNR claims customers are likely to be confused
In the complaint, GNR claims the name “Guns ‘N’ Rosé” is “confusingly similar” to the band’s name and is likely to cause consumers to mistakenly believe the ale is affiliated with or sponsored by the band.
Federal trademark law prohibits the use of a registered mark, or a “colorable imitation,” in a way that is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception of consumers. A colorable imitation refers to a mark that “so resembles a registered mark as to be likely to cause confusion or mistake or to deceive.”1
To successfully prove their case, Guns N’ Roses will have to prove that the average consumer will likely believe – because of the Guns ‘N’ Rosé name – that the band either approved the name or is somehow affiliated with the brewery. Unless GNR’S suit is successful, Oskar Blues intends to continue selling Guns ‘N’ Rosé until March 2020.
1 15 U.S.C. § 1127.