Anheuser-Busch is opposing the trademark application of a North Carolina brewer for the trademark Natty Greene’s, relying on several of its “Natty” beer trademarks for the grounds thereof. In Anheuser-Busch v. Natty Greene Brewing Company, LLC, the St. Louis brewing giant alleges that the Applicant’s trademark Natty Greene’s, is confusingly similar to Anheuser-Busch’s family of NATTY marks, including Natty Light®, Fatty Natty®, and Natty Daddy®, in connection with its Natural Light line of beers.  Applicant’s beer is named after the Revolutionary War General, Nathanael Greene.
The notice of opposition was filed with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on June 18, 2014.  The notice of opposition alleges that consumers are likely to be confused into believing that the Natty Greene’s mark is associated, affiliated, or sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, in violation of Section 2(d) of the Trademark Act.  The Opposer claims that it has been using its “Natty” marks for beer since at least as early as 1998.  The Applicant claims that it has been using its Natty Greene’s mark for beer, paper coasters, glassware, and hats and t-shirts since as early as 2004.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Anheuser-Busch Claims Dilution of its Famous Natty Marks

In a bold move, Anheuser-Busch is also claiming that its “Natty” marks for beer are well-known and famous, and that the Applicant’s mark is likely to cause dilution by blurring of the Opposer’s famous marks in violation of 15 U.S.C. Section 1125(c).  Under the applicable law, dilution by blurring is association arising from the similarity of a trademark with a famous trademark that impairs the distinctiveness of the famous mark.  A trademark opposer must prove that the following elements, in their totality, are in its favor to prevail under the theory of dilution by blurring:

(i) The degree of similarity between the mark or trade name and the famous mark.

(ii) The degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness of the famous mark.

(iii) The extent to which the owner of the famous mark is engaging in substantially exclusive use of the mark.

(iv) The degree of recognition of the famous mark.

(v) Whether the user of the mark or trade name intended to create an association with the famous mark.

(vi) Any actual association between the mark or trade name and the famous mark.

In support if its dilution claim, Anheuser-Busch claims that it has sold millions of dollars of Natty beers, and has also invested millions of dollars in marketing and promotions  for products that incorporate its pleaded trademarks.  The Applicant is also claiming that it adopted its “Natty” marks prior to the Applicant’s first use in 2004.

Applicant has not yet filed an answer and/or affirmative defenses to the allegations.