KREBS, Okla.- New Ulm Brewing & Beverage Company, which makes 1919 Draft Root Beer for the August Schell Brewing Company, is suing the microbrewery Krebs Brewing Company for unfair competition and trademark infringement of its 1919 label.
New Ulm Brewing, based in Sleepy Eye, has been making its root beer for more than 25 years. It first trademarked "1919" in relation to carbonated soft drinks in 2001. It alleges that it has been using its logo since March of 1987, with "a red, black and white color scheme" The date 1919 signifies the year when many breweries faced the prospect of closing due to Prohibition.
Krebs Brewing, based in Krebs, Okla., makes an American Pale Wheat Ale called 1919. New Ulm Brewing claims the Krebs logo is identical to its own, risking confusion for consumers because both beverages are sold in the same retail stores. New Ulm Brewing's 1919 root beer is non-alcoholic.
Krebs Brewing filed its own effort to trademark "1919" in 2010, but the court indicated there was a risk of confusion with a separate wine company that had trademarked "ONE.9 1.9." Krebs Brewing abandoned its trademark application in April 20, 2011.
New Ulm Brewing declined comment on the case, while Krebs Brewing could not be reached for comment.
The case is currently pending in Minnesota District Court.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)