A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm, Ltd., filed an opposition to Walton Street Brewing Corp.'s application to register the mark EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK for ale and beer. Just kidding; it wasn't a long time ago, and it wasn't in a galaxy far, far away. The opposition was filed earlier this month before the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
As the Notice of Opposition alleges, Lucasfilm is responsible for the "enormously successful" films within the STAR WARS film franchise. In 1980, Lucasfilm released the STAR WARS sequel entitled THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, which is deemed by many to be one of the greatest films of all time.
Following the release of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Lucasfilm engaged in extensive licensing and merchandising under the mark on a wide range of products including toys, games, apparel, personal care products...the list goes on and on.
Lucasfilm considers its THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark to be famous, and rightfully so. What you may be surprised to learn is that for over twenty years, Lucasfilm has even licensed some of its STAR WARS family marks to be used on wine.
As a result, Lucasfilm drew its lightsaber when it learned that Walton Street Brewing Corp., filed an application to register the mark EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK for use in connection with ale and beer. Lucasfilm alleges that Walton Street's use of the mark on beer and ale will create a likelihood of confusion with its THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark, and claims that the fact that Lucasfilm licenses other of its franchise marks (SKYWALKER) for use in connection with wine will heighten the likelihood of confusion. Lucasfilm also claims that Walton Street's use of the mark EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK will dilute its famous mark.
Though the brewery has not yet formally responded to the opposition, a spokesperson for the brewery commented that the beer has been on draft for several years. The brewery stated that it was never its intention to cause confusion, but instead intended to pay homage to a great film through the EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK mark.
May the force be with Walton Street on this one.
For those of you who haven't seen THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, here's the original trailer:
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