Ok, so here’s the round up for this past week. I’m going to try and separate by topic area, but there’s a lot to cover, so buckle in!
Beware the Paralyzing “Whac-A-Mole” Trademark Mentality
Trademark: develop a trademark strategy. First, don’t run after a trademark after someone else has started using it. Then don’t fall into the “whack a mole” trap of trying to secure marks after you’ve started using them in… unpredictable ways. http://t.co/710cu3ea
Is your business protected in Bankruptcy?
You May Need a Lawyer for that
Start-up are often (wisely) concerned with saving money up front. When is it a good investment to pay for professional services (like a lawyer). http://t.co/Wz9xwvA4
Capital Gains Tax Opportunity: Permanent?
Be sure to keep up on what’s going on tax wise. Unless you’re not planning on making any money ever. http://t.co/7udiFixq
Social Media Tips for Trademark Protection
Ways you can prevent cybers-quatting and trademark-hijacking. http://t.co/7udiFixq
At Will Employment: Does it Matter?
If you have (or are gonna have) employees, you need to check this out. You’ll need to have an employee handbook or some set of personnel policies, but what should be in them/it? http://t.co/7udiFixq
Contract Brewing Revisited
Contract brewing goes through cycles, but remains an important part of our industry. How do your brewery and Contract (or Partner) Brewing fit together? http://t.co/Yj7Nmkew
So You Want to Open the Next Great Craft Beer Bar?
If you’re looking at opening a bar (or even just your taproom at your brewery), Chris Black of the award-winning Falling Rock Tap House shares his thoughts on what it takes http://t.co/a1vYcyOh
Financial / Progress Report from Boston Beer Co.
Check out how well one of the big micros is doing. http://t.co/bYnPgkms
Global Beer Prices (per pint)
Just saw this today. I don’t know if I’d say it was determinative, but it does give you a good perspective on how beer prices work at the consumer, front-of-the-house, lay-your-money-down level. http://t.co/Eog3Tsx7
Just for fun (Humor/Trivia)
Weird History. Follow them on Twitter for your daily dose of the absurd that seemed TOTALLY spot-on at the time.
- The Difference Between a Trade Name and a Trademark – And Why You Can’t Overlook Either (bizsugar.com)
- Why the hell would you open a brewery? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Not Too Big, but Too Many? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Get Ready To Drink Airport-Themed Beer – Anheuser-Busch Just Trademarked A Bunch Of Airport Codes (businessinsider.com)
- To Trademark or Not to Trademark (thefarmchicks.typepad.com)
- Best of… for the week of June 11, 2012 (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
I’ve been thinking about the craft beer market lately.
I work with several craft breweries and folks who want to get into the craft beer and beverage industry and I’ve been reading a lot about new breweries opening, new beers out there, and what the latest and greatest “extreme” beer to come down the pike.
“Oh look, a beer that’s higher in alcohol than my favorite bourbon!” or “Wow! I’ve never had a beer dry-hopped with turnips!” (you get the idea).
Also I’ve been drinking since the mid 90’s and I remember the boom/bust of the 1990s brewpub.
And, I’ve read that now we have more breweries in the US than we did pre-prohibition. Which is great. But it makes me wonder… is it too much?
I love craft beer, and I”ll be the first one to order the new beer I’ve never heard of before. And I totally support local beer and local ingredients, etc. I’ve argued that you can’t be too big to be a craft brewery (it’s about the craft, not about the size of your fermenters, at least in my opinion). But, it seems that everyone with a plastic bucket and a bag of grain is opening up a brewery. Is there enough room in the industry, in the marketplace, for all the players?
I go in the grocery store and its clear that there’s serious politics involved for shelf space in the beer aisle. If you don’t believe me, check out Beer Wars. As we add additional breweries, that’s only going to get more cut-throat.
Now, a key difference between now and the mid-90s is that in the mid-90s a lot of the beer was crap. I’m not pointing any fingers, but a stainless steel pot and a bag of hops, does not a brewer make. At least now, the beer is good. Not all of it is great, but nearly all of it is good.
Making good beer isn’t an option anymore. If you’re not making good beer, you don’t get out of the gate. But, on the other hand, making great beer isn’t a sure thing either. I’ve seen people with great beer not get off the ground because they’ve got other issues working against them (you know, like they’re a jerk or something). You’ve got to make great beer and have your marketing/business strategy straight to stay in the game. Is there a point where there are so many craft breweries that, as an industry, we’re all hurt?
NC is one of the fastest growing beer markets in the world right now, and I love it. But it makes me wonder if this growth curve is sustainable? Are we headed for another brewery shake out or market consolidation? I think the Beer Culture has changed in the last 20 years (good Lord, the mid-90s *WAS* almost 20 years ago!) Do you think that makes a difference?
- Why the hell would you open a brewery? (jslawcenter.wordpress.com)
- Craft Beer Demand Brews Up Businesses in Eastern Iowa (thegazette.com)
- The Coolest Craft Cans (aleheads.com)
- Where We Stand (aleheads.com)
- Why Cans Are Good For Beer (triplepundit.com)
I thought I’d try something new on the blog this week… I’ve been posting some interesting articles that I’ve found on other blogs, websites, etc. that I think are particularly relevant to small businesses (especially breweries, which are near and dear to my heart). So, today, I thought I’d recap the “best of” for this past week. Let’s get started with…
Mark Sperling blogs about decisions by the NC Business Court
Ok, so this is a little dry for most business owners, but it’s occasionally worth a read or search. NC is one of the few states in the country that has a specialized Business Court specifically to hear business issues and cases, particularly complex ones. This is a great blog to check out from time to time, especially if you’re a business attorney. http://www.ncbusinesslitigationreport.com/
Peer to Peer Business Lending
There’s been a lot of discussion about Crowdfunding lately, here’s an additional twist: Peer2Peer lending. Businesses use other businesses as investment opportunities, cutting out the bank altogether. If you’re thinking about starting a business and need startup money, it’s worth a read. http://under30ceo.com/consider-peertopeer-p2p-lending-business/
Debt v Equity
Another great topic for startup businesses. I advise clients everyday on the difference between debt and equity and what that means to you as a business owner. Read this over before you finalize your business plan. http://venturebeat.com/2012/06/09/debt-vs-equity-which-is-right-for-your-startup/
USPTO Offers IP Awareness Assessment
This is more of a press release than an article, but it’s a great tool for small businesses to make sure they know what their Intellectual Property (IP) issues are. Need copyright? Trademark? What’s a “trade secret,” anyway? The USPTO has some great resources. Check out the press release at
Let’s start there for this installment. I’ll post more next week as things come up that are pertinent to small businesses and the craft beer industry.
Thanks for reading and please, let me know what you think in the comments!
- America Invents Act – Patent Office Funding (tacticalip.com)
- Peer-to-peer lending at encash provides a new way of financing between friends and family (prweb.com)
- USPTO and NIST Unveil New IP Awareness Assessment Tool (ipwatchdog.com)
- Small Business Lending Demand Drives Five Point Capital’s Addition of 13 New … – PR Web (press release) (prweb.com)
- Government to invest in startups through P2P lending platforms (wired.co.uk)
Ok, here’s another “bonus post.” This one is on the topic of Facebook and how it works versus how some people think it works.
I noticed a few people post a “status” in the last few days that starts something like
For those of you who do not understand the reasoning behind this posting, Facebook is now a publicly traded entity. Unless you state otherwise, anyone can infringe on your right to privacy once you post to this site. It is recommended that you and other members post a similar notice as this…
Or something like that. It goes on:
PRIVACY NOTICE: Warning – any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any governmental structure including but not limited to the United States Federal Government also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated…” etc.
So let’s start analyze this:
- Nothing you post on your Facebook status/wall/etc. changes your fundamental rights or obligations with Facebook. The ownership of the content that you post on Facebook is governed by the Terms of Service (that’s why I – and any attorney I know – strongly recommend that you read the Terms of Service before you click “ok”). And, because this is a contractual agreement, you cannot unilaterally (meaning on your own without their approval) modify the agreement. “Ah!”, I hear you scream, “But Facebook makes changes all the time without MY approval!” Well, guess what, that’s in your Terms of Service. Facebook can make minor system changes, improvements, enhancements, etc without your express permission. Your recourse if you don’t like the changes? Don’t use Facebook.
So let’s think about the alternative… if what you posted on Facebook could modify the agreement, they would have to have an attorney (or someone) reading every post by every person ever to make sure that things haven’t changed. Not only is that patently ridiculous and no court would require them to do that, but you don’t want an attorney reading every post you ever made (attorneys with information and free time on their hands is a bad combination). Think of the trouble that would cause!
Lastly, legal issues aside, Stop Being Stupid on Facebook. Generally speaking, you have a right to protect your works (copyright) and ideas (trademark) and other intellectual property. However, that requires that YOU police others’ use or theft of that content and that you don’t knowingly give them express or implied permission to use your property. And, that also assumes that you know about the use/theft and that there’s an adequate remedy available. For example, imagine the Ridiculously Photogenic Marathoner (look it up), do you think he gave every website that used this picture express written permission to use the photo? Ok, who does he sue to enforce his rights? Everyone? He’d spend MILLIONS trying to recover a few dollars from each offender – totally not worth it, nor could he track down every single possible defendant.
Bottom line: if you don’t want it (at least potentially) available to anyone anywhere, don’t put it on the Internet. Not even Facebook.
Oh, one last thing: in the “notice” I saw posted by friends on Facebook, there was a citation to the UCC (the Uniform Commercial Code). The sections cited have NOTHING to do with topic of the posting. If you see something that quotes a law, rule, or regulation, look it up. Chances are, in cases like this, it’ll be immediately obvious that somethings amiss. Ar best, you’ll avoid looking like a doofus. At worst, you’ll know more than when you started.
- Posting Of Facebook ‘Privacy Notice’ Warning Is Completely Fake (inquisitr.com)
- Hoax Facebook Legal Disclaimer Goes Viral in Status Updates (valuewalk.com)
- Your Facebook “Privacy Notice” Is Unenforceable Nonsense (gizmodo.co.uk)
- I See You Asserted Your Privacy Rights on Facebook . . . (moolahlaw.com)
- Facebook Privacy Notice Is As Fake As It Gets (haudebaba.wordpress.com)