Portland’s Shipyard Brewing is being sued by Connecticut’s Stony Creek brewing over a claim of trademark infringement.

The complaint, filed in Connecticut’s U.S. District Court, says Peak Organic’s Ripe – a double IPA brewed and canned at Shipyard’s Portland facility – has a name that is too similar to Stony Creek’s Ripe ‘n’ Cranky. Ripe ‘n’ Cranky is a brand name used for three IPAs that are infused with different fruit juices. Peak Organic’s newest IPA, Ripe, is “confusingly similar” to Ripe ‘n’ Cranky, the lawsuit says, because of the name and the description involving fruit.

Peak describes Ripe as a “juicy double IPA that is absolutely dripping with fresh-cut fruit,” the lawsuit says. “Peak further describes this new offer as ‘bold and tropical in flavor.’ ”

Lawsuits over beer names are becoming more common, said Brendan Palfreyman, a Syracuse, New York, trademark lawyer in the Harris Beach law firm who is not involved in the lawsuit. Palfreyman said there are two or three lawsuits over beer names a month, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is rejecting more proposed beer names because of trademark issues.

Palfreyman said the lawsuit will likely boil down to Stony Creek’s use of the word “ripe” in Ripe ‘n’ Cranky.

“In trademark law, oftentimes the first word in a mark is considered dominant,” he said. “Peak Organic will focus on the term cranky because it is completely dissimilar as compared to Stony Creek’s mark.”

Palfreyman added that Peak Organic might also argue that “ripe” was used by Stony Creek as a general beer term, and thus is fair game for use in a name.

This is the second trademark lawsuit involving Shipyard in the past year. Shipyard filed a lawsuit last June against Missouri’s Logboat Brewing, which brews Shiphead. That suit has mediation pending later this month.

Shipyard and Peak Organic have until Jan. 5 to file a response disputing Stony Creek’s claims.

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

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