Star Wars owner Lucasfilm sues New York brewery Empire over Strikes Bock beer

Lucasfilm believes confusion will occur if the beer is sold with that name

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The Independent Culture

Lucasfilm has filed a legal notice against a small New York brewery for marketing a Star Wars-themed beer named Strikes Bock.

The Disney-owned company believes marketplace confusion could occur if Empire Brewing Co's plan to sell the drink in bars, restaurants and stores goes ahead.

Of course, the famous film title causing problems is The Empire Strikes Back, the fifth Star Wars instalment released in 1980.

Lucasfilm, bought by Disney for more than £4 billion in 2012, is concerned that customers may think the brewery's bock lager is an official Star Wars drink. In fact, it is completely unconnected to the popular movie franchise.

Empire Brewing Co has been trying to trademark the Strikes Bock name, but Lucasfilm has retaliated in an attempt to stop the beer being sold elsewhere.

The official 'Notice of Opposition' alleges that the beer moniker is "virtually identical in sound, appearance and connotation" to the film title.

"Lucasfilm has a long history of using such marks for food and beverages, including wine," it reads.

"The fact that consumers have been exposed to and accustomed to seeing Lucasfilm's Star Wars film franchise marks in connection with food and beverages, including wine, increases the already existing likelihood of confusion."

 

But brewery owner David Katleski told Syracuse.com that he sees the lawsuit as a "big dog against small dog thing".

"We've had this beer for seven years, and we [applied for a trademark] because we don't want to infringe on any other beers or anyone else's trademarks.

"The thing is the beer is called Strikes Bock not Empire Strikes Bock. It's Strikes Bock, by Empire."

The brewery describes Strikes Bock as an "extremely clean and refreshing" spring lager and includes the tongue-in-cheek slogan "may the hops be with you".

Empire Brewing Co reportedly has 30 days to respond to Lucasfilm's complaint (read it online here), so it remains to be seen whether legal action will be required.

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