Theres no law against Budweiser calling its beer America
Budweiser is renaming its beer America to capitalize on three things central to American life: politics, sporting events and holiday weekends. (Anheuser-Busch)
Will America take kindly to having its name used to sell beer?
This week, Budweiser — which is owned by InBev, a Belgian beverage conglomerate — announced that from now through November, Budweiser beer will simply be called America.
The beer company is trying to capitalize on three things central to life in America: politics, sporting events and holiday weekends. The America cans will be sold through the presidential election on Nov.8. That covers the Summer Olympics and soccers Copa America competition, as well as Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day — all occasions for barbecues and coolers full of cold beers.
We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on U.S. soil for the first time, Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, gushed Ricardo Marques, vice president at Budweiser, according to theAssociated Press.
Reactions from citizens of America — the country, not the beer, a distinction Budweiser has forced us to make — ranged from moderately amused to less than thrilled.
Placing aside matters of taste, theres no legal problem with naming something America that isnt America.
According to records from the U.S. Patent and Trade Office website, Budweiser hasnt sought a trademark on the name. Its just putting the word on the cans, along with a few other patriotic words and phrases: King of Beers is becoming E Pluribus Unum; the AB logo, for Anheuser-Busch, will read US; and, somewhat ironically, Trademark Registered is being changed to Indivisible Since 1776.
And thats a good thing. Valerie Barreiro, director of the intellectual property law clinic at USC, said America is too widely used to be trademarked.
When you file for a trademark, if the word America is included in your trademark, you disclaim America, she explained. You acknowledge that you cannot claim exclusivity to the word America.
(A search of the Patent and Trade Officesite did turn up one related resultfor Budweiser: In 2013, the company sought to trademark the phrase BUDWEISER AMERICAMADEBETTER. The application was subsequently abandoned.)
Budweiser is far from the first company to invoke America in its products: Think of American Apparel, American Girl Dolls, America Online, American Airlines.
Will American consumers be fooled into thinking theyre drinking liquid patriotism? Maybe. So-calledconsumer patriotismappears to spike around international sporting events. Technically, Budweiser is not owned by an American company, but it is brewed in the United States.
And lets be honest: Its going to be tough to resist the allure of Instagramming yourself cracking open a can of America at your Fourth of July party.
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