September 02, 2015

LMFAO – Band v. Beer

by Guest Blogger


The musical band LMFAO is challenging a craft brewery in Michigan called Pigeon Hill Brewing Company over a beer which the brewery named the "LMFAO Stout". The term LMFAO is not unique to the band. That acronym is commonly used in pop culture as a "LOL" variant suggesting laughing one's hiney off. The band, comprised of an uncle-nephew duo, is known for "Party Rock Anthem" and "I'm Sexy and I Know It", among other dance favorites. The band was even nominated for Best Dance/Electronic Album at the 2010 GRAMMY® Awards. True to partying form, the band is reported to have found out about the nomination while on a bender in Miami.

In the brewery's case, their beer is known to customers as "LMFAO Stout" to mean "Let Me Fetch An Oatmeal" Stout. Other names given to the brewery's craft beers include "Fuggly Good Looker", "Shifting Sands," "Skeeter on My Wheater" and "Snoring Basset Brown." Pigeon Hill filed trademark applications on these names as well as the mark "LMFAO STOUT" in April. The LMFAO STOUT application has tentatively been approved for registration by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application is scheduled to be published for public comment on September 22. Publication is the point in the application process where the general public has a thirty-day window to object. If no one opposes the application, then the registration can issue. The band is poised to oppose Pigeon Hill's application and try and block registration.

The band has its own trademark applications for LMFAO which were filed back in 2013, seeking registration in connection with the band name as well as several categories of merchandise. Although the band has not asked for registration specifically for alcoholic beverages, they are seeking registration for such items as barware, shot glasses, beer coolers, funnels, and mugs. This dispute is less about whether the band name is confusingly similar to the beer name, and more about the band's desire to commercialize on its notoriety through merchandising, and alcohol is a key interest (dare I say hobby) for the party-centric band.

The brewery has commented on their Facebook Page that they are not going anywhere. The LMFAO Stout is the brewery's first beer and is regularly available on tap and through distribution. While the brewery initially solicited public comment, they have recently posted that they are in talks with the band but are keeping the legal discussions confidential at this time. This is a wise move by the band, as social media has turned the tide in many legal disputes of late. One of the more famous social media battles also involved a craft brewery in Vermont where Monster Energy Drink parent company started a stink with Rock Art Brewery over its VERMONSTER beer. The dispute resolved quickly after wide-spread social media coverage.

Here's to a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!