The popularity of IPAs and other bitter brews, combined with an easy-to-riff-on word like “hops,” has flooded the craft beer market with hop puns, rhymes and jokes both inside and out, clever and cringe-worthy alike. The potential for beer names seemed endless until the present day, when more and more breweries are discovering the limits.
Creating catchy, recognizable names has long been a crucial marketing tool for breweries looking to reel in a reliable customer base. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the industry has all but run out of names to trademark, with lawyers lining up to represent craft breweries in copyright infringement suits. This includes one such counselor with the Twitter handle @BeerAttorney who used to tweet about his cases, “but there got to be so many of them I just stopped.” More than 25,000 registrations and applications have been submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for beer alone, and as the well runs dry, the battle of beer wit rages on.
A quick Flickr search brought up Deschutes’ Hop Henge, Terrapin’s Hop Karma, Hop City’s Hopbot, Uinta’s Hop Notch, Victory’s Hop Devil, Bridgeport’s Hop Czar, Ska’s Modus Hoperandi, Beer Here’s Hopfix, Parallel 49’s Snap Crackle Hops, Double Trouble’s Hops and Robbers, Epic’s Hopulent and Northwest’s Hoppy Bitch. And that’s just from five minutes on Flickr, a photo-sharing platform hardly anyone uses. Imagine the wealth of IPA names currently out there among the 4,600 craft breweries in the U.S. and you can see where lawyers might be able to make a buck or two, particularly when a large, financially sound brewery goes after a small one.