In a recent precedential case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the fame of the trademark BUD for beer owned by Anheuser-Busch, LLC (Anheuser) played a dominant role in the Board’s finding a likelihood of confusion between BUD for beer and WINEBUD for wine (and other alcoholic beverages). The Board found that Anheuser’s evidence clearly established the fame of their BUD and BUDWEISER marks. Anheuser has used its BUDWEISER mark since 1876 and its beer has been known as BUD since about 1895. Moreover, Anheuser is a heavy user of advertisement and has been a major sponsor of well known sporting events and is the recipient of scores of unsolicited publicity. In fact, BUD LIGHT is the best-selling beer in America.

In contrast, the mark WINEBUD had not been in use in the United States. The Applicant for the mark WINEBUD argued that WINEBUD is a “fanciful compound noun formed from the nouns WINE and BUD, an analogy to horticultural words such as ‘rosebud.'” It contended that wine drinkers would perceive the latter half of its mark as connoting the bud of a vine, not as a reference to BUDWEISER the beer or the BUD family of marks. In addition, Applicant argued that WINEBUD is essentially a play on the word “vinebud,” a word known in the wine industry.

The Board concluded that consumer would likely see the WINE component of the WINEBUD mark as the generic name for the beverage, and BUD, due to the fame of Anheuser’s marks, as the source-identifying portion of the mark. Accordingly, the Board found the dominant portion of the mark WINEBUD to be BUD, and that WINEBUD and BUD marks are “highly similar.” Moreover, the Board found the goods of beer and other alcoholic beverages, including wine, to be related. In the end, Anheuser’s famous BUD mark was the “heavy thumb” that tipped the scales in Anheuser’s favor.

For a complete review of the case see Anheuser-Busch, LLC v. Innvopak Systems Pty Ltd., Opposition No. 91194148 (August 17, 2015) [precedential].