Welcome To The Trademark Jungle, Guns N’ Roses

The rock band Guns N’ Roses has been around since 1984 and is a known name in the music industry to just about everyone in the United States. While the band members have spent most of their lives creating and performing music, they are now going to be occupied with litigating a trademark infringement lawsuit in federal court.

The band has filed a lawsuit in the federal court in the Central District of California against a brewery doing business as Oskar Blues Brewery. While Guns N’ Roses has not been in the business of selling beer, it does cite to its longstanding federal trademark registrations in three different classes of goods and services.

It has acquired registrations for:

  • Precorded video and audio tapes, prerecorded phonograph records and prerecorded compact discs featuring music (Class 9);
  • Entertainment services; namely, performances by a musical group (Class 41); and
  • Clothing, namely T-shirts, shirts, hats, caps, bandannas, sweatpants, and thermal shirts (Class 25).

Separately, the band claims that it has gained common law rights in items including those used for and related to the imbibing of alcohol, including wine glasses, pint glasses, koozies and shot glasses. Thus, while Guns N’ Roses may have never been in the business of selling beer, the group claims that it has sold items surrounding the drinking of same, which could lead the consumer to believe it is in some way associated with the product marketed and sold by Oskar Blues Brewery.

In its Complaint, Guns N’ Roses says that it has information and belief that Oskar Blues Brewery is selling a craft beer under the mark GUNS ‘N’ ROSÉ as well as merchandise bearing the mark. Furthermore, the company filed  a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark for beer. In March, Guns N’ Roses instituted an opposition proceeding that opposes the registration of the brewery’s mark. Then, in the beginning of May, the brewery filed an express abandonment of its trademark application, yet it refuses to immediately cease sales of the at issue beer.

Guns N’ Roses provides proof in the Complaint that it previously tried to amicably resolve the matter through letter correspondence, but that the brewery denied the band’s claims. The group is suing for trademark infringement, false designation of origin and association, trademark dilution, unfair competition and missappropriation of right of publicity. Included in the prayer for relief is a request that the court require the defendant to be enjoined from selling and advertising any products that are likely to be confusing with the Guns N’ Roses mark.