Patent No. 4494451A: Brewing Apparatus

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Today in 1985, US Patent 4494451 A was issued, an invention of John F. Hickey, for his “Brewing Apparatus.” Here’s the Abstract:

Brewing apparatus which comprises a first vessel including heating means, a second vessel including strainer means, a third vessel, and a valve means and pump arrangement by means of which the three vessels can be coupled as necessary for fluid transfer purposes so that the first vessel can be used firstly as a hot liquor tank to produce hot liquor which is transferred to the third vessel which serves firstly as a hot liquor container, from which in use the hot liquor is transferred to the second vessel wherein it is mashed with malt to produce a wort and which serves firstly as a mash tun, from which the wort is transferred to the first vessel therein to be heated with hops whereby the first vessel serves secondly as a brewing kettle from which the resultant brew is transferred to the third vessel which serves secondly as a fermenting vessel.

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Patent No. 2393518A: Fermentation Of Beer

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Today in 1946, US Patent 2393518 A was issued, an invention of Stephen T. Clarke, for his “Fermentation Of Beer.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “object of the invention is to provide’a process and apparatus of the top fermentation type which will produce a very full drinking beer of high stability and character.” It continues:

The whole process of fermentation is carried out under pressure in a single enclosed vessel having at the top thereof a detachable cone or dome provided with an outlet pipe of small diameter terminating in a device such as a nipple for controlling the pressure. The outlet of the pipe is at or near the top of an enclosed yeast-back provided with a cock or valve which normally is open to the atmosphere to relieve pressure in the yeast-back. The yeast-back is also provided with a draining tube for returning the yeast drainings to the fermenting vessel.

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Patent No. 2414669A: Art Of Brewing

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Today in 1947, US Patent 2414669 A was issued, an invention of Gustave T. Reich, for his “Art of Brewing.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to a continuous process of brewing beer from malt and cereal. Among its objectives are the securing of the maximum diastatic action in the minimum time thus permitting advantageous continuous saccharincation, the preventing of the destruction of the diastase and peptase by heat prior to the sacchariflcation of the mash so that the full effect of all the diastase is released in the sacoharifying step, the effecting of the maximum digestion of the malt by the peptase largely prior to the saccharibody of the hulls is not fication, the avoiding of dissolving objectionable soluble materials found in the malt hulls by digesting the malt while the hulls are largely intact.”
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Patent No. 553269A: Method Of Manufacturing Beer Or Ale

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Today in 1896, US Patent 553269 A was issued, an invention of Gustave Sobotka and Adolph Kliemetschek, for their “Method of Manufacturing Beer or Ale.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to methods of manufacturing beer and ale, and the objects are mainly to provide an improved process whereby a superior quality of beer or ale may be produced and in a much shorter time than is required when made according to methods heretofore in use, thereby effecting a saving of both time and labor, and also to avoid the loss of the aromatic principle or constituents of the hops, which necessarily results from ordinary methods of boiling the hops with the Wort in the copper, and further to reduce the quantity of hops usually required for the manufacture of a given quantity of beer or ale by utilizing the flavoring, disinfecting, and preserving qualities of the hops to better advantage, and thereby also effect a saving of material.”
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Patent No. 2028283A: Foam Controlling Beer Faucet

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Today in 1936, US Patent 2028283 A was issued, an invention of Jules Howard and Sanford E. Richeson, for their “Foam Controlling Beer Faucet.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to beer and like taps or valves for drawing off foamy liquid from a cooler or other container.” It was designed “to prevent loss of the liquid incident to foaming in the glass after standing for some time in the cooler or container, and at the same time to regulate the depth of the head or cap of foam at the top of the glass.”
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Patent No. 3933282A: Universal Tavern Unit For Keg Tapping Device

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Today in 1976, US Patent 3933282 A was issued, an invention of Frederick F. Stevens, Jr., and assigned to Hoff-Stevens, Inc., for his “Universal Tavern Unit for Keg Tapping Device.” Here’s the Abstract:

A universal tavern unit for a keg tapping device comprises a basic tavern unit for connection to a keg unit permanently or semi-permanently connected to a keg. The basic tavern unit is adapted to cooperate with the keg unit to provide inlet and outlet passageways which communicate with the interior of the keg for the introduction of gas under pressure into the keg and the discharge of beer or other liquid therefrom. The universal tavern unit further includes a pressure relief check valve adaptor assembly for connection to the basic tavern unit to adapt it to the requirements of an associated beer or liquid distribution system.

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Patent No. 1125735A: Keg Or Container

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Today in 1915, US Patent 1125735 A was issued, an invention of Frank A. Schaum and Eugene F. Wales, for their “Keg or Container.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to kegs or other containers and has for its object reinforcing devices for strengthening the container.” They continue. “A further improvement is devices for holding the hoops in place. These devices may be made part of the reinforcing structure.”
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Patent No. 4720076A: For A Carbon Dioxide Gas Pressure Dispense System For Beer

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Today in 1988, US Patent 4720076 A was issued, an invention of Roger J. Hyde, for his “Carbon Dioxide Gas Pressure Dispense System for Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

A dispense tape (10) to control the flow of carbonated beers is configured to minimize pressure drop and turbulence in beer flow to an outlet nozzle (14) when open, the tap having flow restrictor means (52) operatively connected as a downstream extension of the tap valve (30), located in the path of beer flowing from the valve, arranged only to affect beer flow when the tap is nearly closed and configured to substantially restrict beer flow to maximize pressure drop and turbulence; choice of nozzle length/bore ratio enabling either a creamy flow or a squib of beer to be dispensed.

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Patent No. 356323A: Machine For Picking And Separating Hops

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Today in 1887, US Patent 356323 A was issued, an invention of Franklin Leonard, for his “Machine for Picking and Separating Hops.” There’s no Abstract, and the description is hard to read, as well, but it’s a “new and improved Machine for Picking and Separating Hops from the Vines.”
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Wine vs. Beer, Big vs. Small, More Trademark Woes

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Opened in 2012, the tiny Cambria Beer Co. is located in the equally small town of Cambria, described more as a “seaside village,” boasting about 6,000 residents. It’s located along Highway 1, in San Luis Obispo County, midway between San Francisco and L.A.

The brewery uses a small 3bbl brew sculpture system, and operates a small tap room on Cornwall Street. They offer a wide variety of beer styles, continually rotating. A recent list included five on, with two in the fermenters and three more scheduled right behind those. Beers sell out quickly, but they try to keep up. Owners Aaron and Jennifer Wharton decided that since they were the only brewery in town, that Cambria Beer Company was the right name for their decidedly local enterprise.

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Not everyone agreed. The Jackson Family Farms is best known for Kendall-Jackson wine, but that’s just one of the more than a dozen wineries that they own. Another one of their labels is Cambria Estate Winery. So you’re probably thinking that makes sense, probably located right down the street. Nope. To get to the Cambria Estate Winery from the brewery, you’ll need to head south on Highway 1, then pick up Interstate 101 at the junction in San Luis Obispo. Drive south to Santa Maria, turn left in downtown and drive west out of town to the winery. All told, it will take you about one hour and twenty minutes to get there, because it’s nearly 80 miles away outside the town of Santa Maria, which is even in a different county (Santa Barbara County), too.

I first saw this on Grub Street, but the local newspaper, The Cambrian, naturally has the most complete account in When is Cambria not in Cambria? Apparently, the Whartons have been trying to negotiate to keep their name since they received the C&D letter from KJ’s lawyers on New Year’s Eve.

Unfortunately, as I understand it, when it comes to trademark law, alcohol is alcohol; they’re in the same class of goods as far as trademark is concerned. This is hardly the first time this has happened. Another small brewery in the Bay Area had to add a letter to their name because a spirits company was using the original spelling. A San Francisco brewery not long ago had to change the name of one of its beers, because there was a rum of the same name.

So there is some precedent here, it’s not totally out of left field. The Cambrian author wonders if every business in Cambria using Cambria in their name should be worried, rightly concluding no. But the fact that the winery is so far from the town and they serve largely a different demographic makes it not so cut and dry. A commenter on Reddit who claimed to be close to the parties involved mentioned that the brewery’s attorneys believed they had a strong case, but the $50,000 (minimum) price tag to fight it was too much for them, as it would be for almost any small company. So the brewery did what most people would in this situation, and decided to change their name. Last week, they posted that decision on their Facebook page, asking fans and customers to help them come up with a new name by leaving a comment. They’ve had a lot of suggestions so far, including several funny ones.

I’m starting to think that trademark law may need some modification. Clearly, alcohol is not alcohol anymore. Maybe there was a time when that made sense, but I think most of us can agree that we can tell the difference between beer and wine. And it seems to me geographic truth should trump whatever reason this winery is using a name that has nothing to do with where it’s located. I seem to recall another trademark case where the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams) sued Boston Beer Works and lost, the court ruling that “Boston” was too generic a term, ditto “beer.” Komlossy Law has a nice overview of the case, if you’re interested in learning more. And those were both beer companies, so it does seem like Cambria Beer might have had a decent shot at keeping their name. Still, you have to understand not wanting to spend a fortune going to court on an uncertain result. As we learned in “War Games,” sometimes “the only winning move is not to play.” If nothing else, I hope we can all support whatever new name they decide on and stop by and spend our money there the next time we drive by on our way to or from Los Angeles or the Bay Area. Success is always the best revenge.