An article seen in an America publication recently described a dispute between two members of one family concerning the use of a family surname which is also being used as the brand name by a brewery in St Louis. The name Schlafly is the surname of a well-known prominent political conservative commentator, Phyllis Schlafly, and is also the name of a craft beer produced by a brewery started by her nephew. The dispute arose over a decision as to whether Schlafly should principally considered a surname or a commercial brand name deserving legal protection.
Understandably Tom Schlafly who started the brewery over twenty years ago wants a trademark that would give the brewery the exclusive right to use the Schlafly name for his brand of craft beer, but Phyllis Schlafly has asked the US Patent & Trademark Office to deny the request in the event of any implied association with beer tarnishing her political career.
Andrew Schlafly, Phyllis’ son who is representing her, feels that as there are millions of Americans who oppose alcohol and this would not comply with conservative values. He has also filed papers opposing the trademark. His brother Bruce, an orthopaedic surgeon states that his patients make the same mistake and that the name, when standing alone “has no usage or meaning other than as a surname.”
The brewery filed its application in 2011 not long before Schlafly and his partner Dan Kopman sold a majority of the brewery to Sage Capital, a local equity firm, but Tom Schlafly remains the company’s largest shareholder and its board chairman. Having produced 56,000 barrels of beer in 2013, the brewery is one of the largest craft beer brewers in the country and naturally the new ownership group wants to protect its brand. However opposition to the trademark has also come from Anheuser-Busch who were given an extension to file a protest and the manufacturers of Budweiser who have yet to decide on the issue.
Schlafly does not want his business to escalate into a political struggle and of his aunt says “She has fans and critics, I want to sell to both of them – the last thing I want to do is antagonize her followers, because I hope they drink Schlafly beer too.”