Shipyard Brewing Co. has filed an unusual federal lawsuit against a Missouri brewery claiming trademark infringement.

At issue is Logboat Brewing Co.’s Shiphead beer. In its lawsuit, Portland-based Shipyard says Logboat’s beer infringes on its trademarked name. It also says that because Shipyard produces beer with names such as Pumpkinhead, Melonhead and Applehead, consumers could conclude that Shiphead is a Shipyard product.

The company is seeking an injunction and damages from lost profits. Shipyard is also seeking money for “corrective advertising to address Logboat’s deceptive and misleading false advertising,” as well as attorney fees and court costs.

Brendan Palfreyman, a Syracuse, New York, trademark lawyer who is not involved in the lawsuit, says Shipyard’s case is not a typical, straightforward trademark complaint.

“It’s pretty interesting,” he said. “Shipyard’s claim is … partially based on a combination of two trademarks, or actually half a dozen trademarks. … Trademark disputes are typically one to one. It may be tough to argue this trademark is similar to these other two trademarks.”

Shiphead is a wheat ale brewed with ginger, coriander and lemon zest. Logboat, which is in Columbia, Missouri, also makes a raspberry version of Shiphead, which could be interpreted as similar to Shipyard’s fruit-infused beers.

The lawsuit also focuses on the labeling of Logboat’s beers.

“Logboat’s packaging uses colors that are identical to the colors that Shipyard uses for its packaging,” the lawsuit claims. “In addition, the logos are conceptually similar in that … the woman depicted on Logboat’s beer is wearing a schooner on her head that is highly similar to Shipyard’s federally registered and incontestable Schooner logo, hence ‘Shiphead.’ ”

The dispute over packaging is unusual, Palfreyman said. Complaints typically focus on the name of a beer or a brewery. He gave the example of Black Ops Brewing in California that was sued by Brooklyn Brewery, which makes a beer called Black Ops. The California brewery lost that lawsuit.

A pair of large California breweries – Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas – got into a public spat in 2015 when Laguintas sued Sierra Nevada, claiming Sierra Nevada’s packaging for its Hop Hunter was similar to Lagunitas’ packaging for its India pale ale. Lagunitas was widely ridiculed for the lawsuit and it was dropped the day the spat became public.

Lagunitas changed some of its packaging when Sweetwater Brewing complained about the use of “420” on Lagunitas’ products. Sweetwater makes a beer called 420 IPA.

Shipyard founder Fred Forsley said in an email that he is protecting his company’s trademarks and would like to settle the matter out of court.

“We have a lot of hard-earned brand recognition in our trademarks,” Forsley said, “and where appropriate we have to take steps to protect them. Litigation is sometimes an unavoidable consequence of that process. But we’ve worked hard to get this resolved with the brewery in an amicable, brewer-to-brewer, no-court-required fashion. We’re hoping we can still do that.”

Logboat also operated an outdoor beer garden at its brewery named “The Shipyard,” but stopped when contacted by Shipyard, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri and has been referred to mediation.

Logboat responded in a post on various social media platforms Tuesday night.

“Logboat denies that its Shiphead mark infringes any trademark rights of Shipyard Brewing Company,” the post said in part.

Logboat is a four-year-old brewery that produces beer on a much smaller scale than Shipyard. The 23-year-old Portland brewery has been Maine’s top beer producer by volume for the past 11 years.

Palfreyman, who frequently represents breweries in trademark disputes, said lawsuits over beer names are becoming more common because there are over 5,300 breweries in the country, each making five to 10 beers.

“There’s only so much room in the dictionary,” Palfreyman said. “It’s actually getting tougher and tougher to get trademark registrations for beer for single words these days because so many of them are taken. … There are only so many hop puns out there.”

James Patrick can be contacted at 791-6382 or at:

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