Georgia residents may recognize the name Phyllis Schlafly as the founder of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group that began in 1972. More than 20 years ago, Schlafly’s nephew began a small brewery. Now, the majority owners of that company want to trademark the Schlafly name. Of course, the Schlaflys are not going to give up their surname without a fight, and if the two sides are unable to settle their differences, business litigation may be in the offing.
Even though Phyllis Schlafly had no objection to her nephew starting a brewing company, she and her son do object to someone outside the family wanting to use their last name. Sage Capital, the majority owner, requested the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make a determination as to whether the name can be trademarked to protect the brewery’s commercial brand. Schlafly objected to the family name being trademarked by Sage Capital.
According to her son, the brewery’s production of alcohol could potentially harm the reputation of Phyllis Schlafly. Further, he also expressed that it would just be unnerving for someone else, especially someone unknown to the family, to own their surname. The parties are still attempting to negotiate a settlement.
If that turns out to be impossible, the family or the brewery could pursue business litigation to settle the issue. Many Georgia business owners include their surnames in the name of their businesses. If they sell their businesses, the new owner could attempt to trademark the family’s name, just as is happening in this case — especially if the family name has become synonymous with the products or services of the business.
Source: nj.com, Trouble brewing in trademark dispute involving conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, Alexi Friedman, March 13, 2014