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“Liquor Before Beer, You’re in the Clear … Beer Before Wine, You’ll Be Fine,” and So On: “Confusing” Advice for the Reveling Tippler & Registering Trademarks

ILN IP Insider

James P. Flynn, Member of the Firm and the Managing Shareholder of the firm’s Newark office, authored an article in ILN IP Insider, titled ““Liquor Before Beer, You’re in the Clear … Beer Before Wine, You’ll Be Fine,” and So On: “Confusing” Advice for the Reveling Tippler & Registering Trademarks.”

Following is an excerpt:

The relationship of wine, beer, and spirits has often proved complicated and confusing for the tippler, regardless of country.  There are old saws that many repeat, and report on, that say things like “Beer Before Liquor, Never Sicker; Liquor Before Beer, You’re In The Clear” and “Wine Before Beer Leaves You Queer, But Beer Before Wine Leaves You Fine.”  One also hears such advice as one travels, with sayings like “Bier auf Wein, lass das sein; Wein auf Bier, das rat’ ich dir” in Germany (which you can hear here and which I am told essentially means “Beer after wine is to be avoided; wine after beer is advised”), and “sörre bor, jó gyomor, borra sör, meggyötör” in Hungary (which you can also hear here and which has been roughly translated for me as “beer then wine leaves a good stomach; wine then beer leaves it [i.e. the stomach] tormented”), as others are quick to mention. And, of course, there are many, many other bits of drinking doggerel that are a bit difficult to remember and keep straight.

It turns out, as one moves from country to country, that the relationship of wine, beer, and spirits has often also proved complicated and confusing for the trademarker.  That is because some jurisdictions see those products as competitive (in the legal sense for trademark purposes) with one another, and some do not.  (Those in marketing vary as well.  While a 2016 Gallup Poll of Americans who drink alcohol found that 43% of Americans who drink alcohol say they prefer beer, 32% say wine and 20% say liquor, marketers remain unsure if that reveals one or more markets, some seeing several different tiers in a larger “drinks market,” while others see all three as competing within a single market for alcoholic drinks). Those seeking to register or resist registration of certain trademarks thus remain a bit confused over what is likely to confuse in the market and what the definition of that legal market should be.