Craft breweries face many challenges, overcoming a number of them just to establish their business, make sure all preparations are in place and all state laws followed. But, sometimes, those challenges can take these businesses by surprise as what recently happened to a South Florida brewery blindsided by a global giant brewer in a trademark-related dispute.
Doral-based Biscayne Bay Brewing Co. filed a lawsuit on Oct. 12 against Heineken, alleging that a Heineken-backed brewery bullied the craft brewer into changing the name of one of its most popular beers. The two beers have similar names. Biscayne’s fast-selling craft beer is known as Tropical Bay IPA, while the Heineken-supported new brewery in Wynwood is named Cerveceria La Tropical.
Trademark issues, bullying tactics
The dispute, according to the lawsuit, led to the Major League Soccer club Inter Miami to drop its agreement that made Biscayne Bay the team’s “official craft beer.” And it is likely no coincidence that the Netherlands-based Heineken is a corporate sponsor of the soccer team.
The craft brewery introduced the IPA last year, and it became its fastest-selling beer, according to the lawsuit. Earlier this year, Biscayne Bay signed an agreement with Inter Miami, which began promoting the partnership that was due to run through December 2021. However, in May, La Tropical requested Biscayne Bay to stop using the Tropical Bay IPA name and find a new moniker. The Inter Miami soccer club abruptly canceled the Biscayne Bay sponsorship deal in September.
Biscayne Bay seeks the court to make a ruling about its trademark of Tropical Bay IPA, revoke La Tropical’s trademarks as well as secure unspecified damages.