Portland’s award-winning, all-gluten-free brewery, Harvester Brewing, is changing its name to avoid legal issues raised over the name “Harvester” from a California winery, Hope Family Wines. At heart it’s a trademark dispute; Hope Family Wines has a trademark for the word “Harvester” that applies to “wines” (and only “wines” as near as I can tell from searching, not “alcoholic beverages” or anything).
Harvester Brewing is making the most of it and opening up the virtual suggestion box for new names:
If you were disappointed that you missed out on the opportunity to help name the first dedicated gluten-free brewery in the United States then we have some great news. Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, California has decided that our use of Harvester will create brand confusion and has demanded that we change the name of our brewery, despite being in a different trademark class. Rather than spend time, money, and energy focused on a lengthy legal battle we have decided to ask our fans to help us choose a new name.
Hope Family Wines finds the use of “Harvester” in any form “unacceptable” so ideas like New Harvester Brewing or G.F.Harvester Brewing will not be permitted by Hope Family Wines. We would like it if the new name worked well with our love of farming, farmers, and tractors so we can continue using our tractor logo but we will consider non-tractor related ideas too.
Please submit new name suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
While I understand the need for a company to enforce its trademarks at the risk of losing them, this case seems a little odd. First, the trademark domain—only “wines” in this case—seems limited to go after a brewing company. Next, as Brewpublic points out, the winery currently does not have a wine actually named “Harvester” on the market; they were apparently developing a box wine with that name several years ago but it sounds as though it were never released.
Then of course one has to wonder if breweries such as Asheville’s Green Man Brewery will also receive legal notices from Hope Family, as they have a beer named “Harvester.” Certainly the same “logic” that applies to confusing a wine with a brewery would extend to confusing a wine with a beer. Time will tell.
In the meantime, if you have suggestions for Harvester for a new name, that also allows them to keep their tractor logo, be sure to send them their way.