COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has drastically impacted all facets of everyday life, including the way in which alcohol sales can be conducted. Though most jurisdictions have banned dine-in customers at restaurants, bars and tap rooms, many have permitted on-premise licensees to temporarily sell to consumers through delivery, curb-side pickup, or off-premise sales. It is imperative to contact

There is a House of Representatives bill pending that if passed would allow shipment of alcohol beverages through the US Postal Service. Currently alcohol beverages may only be shipped through a common carrier such as UPS or FedEx. If the legislation passes the ban on shipping through the mail would be lifted, and products could

On July 1, 2019, we blogged about the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down various Tennessee regulations whose purpose and effect was to limit the ability of non-Tennessee actors to compete in the retail market for alcoholic beverages. Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retailers Ass’n v. Thomas, 139 S.Ct. 2449 (2019). Last month, the Fifth Circuit addressed a somewhat different restriction imposed by the State of Texas. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Com’n, 935 F.3d 362 (5th Cir. 2019).

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Bacardi U.S., Inc. is facing a class action lawsuit in Florida due the use of grains of paradise in Bombay Sapphire® Gin.  In Uri Marrache v. Bacardi USA, Inc., et al., Case No. 2019-023668-CA-01 (Miami-Dade Cir. Ct. Aug. 9, 2019), the plaintiff alleges that the use of grains of paradise violates a Florida state law preventing the adulteration of liquor with certain ingredients resulting in a violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTP).

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On May 9, 2019, we blogged about the challenge to the Minnesota farm winery statute. The statute allows Minnesota farms to bypass the traditional three-tier method of distributing alcoholic beverages and sell directly to retailers and consumers. To qualify as a farm winery, however, more than 50% of the grapes it uses must be grown in Minnesota. Two farm wineries argued that the statute violated the dormant commerce clause by discriminating against out-of-state grape growers.

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Avoiding Trademark Disputes in the Alcoholic Beverage Industry

In the first installment of our series on trademark disputes in the alcoholic beverage industry, we identified the risks facing industry participants on the branding front, regardless if they are “entrepreneurs” entering the market for the first time or established companies launching a new brand.  As we advised, the risks are significant and have the potential to completely derail your new brand.


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On October 15, 2018, we blogged about Tennessee’s regulations on licensing for retail sales of alcoholic beverages. Tennessee requires residency within the state for two years in order to obtain an initial license. It requires residency for 10 consecutive years to obtain a renewal of the initial license.  But the initial license only runs for a year. The statute also requires that all officers, directors and shareholders of corporations to satisfy these residency requirements. The effect of this statute is to prohibit publicly traded corporations from obtaining a liquor license. It also gives a clear edge to Tennessee residents at the expense of out-of-staters.

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Avoiding Trademark Disputes in the Beverage Alcohol Industry

It is undeniable that craft beverage marketplace – both with beer and spirits – has seen tremendous growth over the past several years. The result is a crowded, somewhat confused and competitive environment where standing out from the crowd is increasingly challenging. While producing a quality product is, of course, paramount, developing a distinctive and eye-catching brand for your latest beer, wine, or craft spirit has become a critical component to success in the industry. In the beverage alcohol business, brand is (nearly) everything. Ideally, that brand will provide a springboard toward future expansion of your product line as the brand becomes known in the market and specifically requested by consumers.
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On June 7, 2019, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced that it has adopted a final regulation eliminating the requirement for coffee to carry a Proposition 65 warning label. The regulation overturns a California State Court decision that found that coffee retailers failed to prove that the chemicals present in coffee, such as acrylamide, pose no significant risk of harm, requiring coffee to bear a warning.  
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Like most states, Minnesota has a three-tier system for distributing alcoholic beverages – the manufacturer sells to a wholesaler who sells to a retailer. Minnesota allows local wineries to apply for a farm winery license, which permits the holder to sell direct to both retailers and consumers.  The catch is that the winery must use more than 50% of its grape juice from grapes produced in Minnesota.  A winery may obtain a one-year dispensation from this requirement if it certifies that sufficient supplies of Minnesota grapes are impossible to obtain.

Two farm wineries sued the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety, who enforces the statute, alleging that it violates the dormant commerce clause by discriminating against out-of-state grape juice. The District Court granted the Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment.  The Court acknowledged that the statute caused plaintiffs injury in fact, because it interfered with their ability to expand their businesses.  But it reasoned that, if plaintiffs wanted to use more out-of-state grapes, they could apply for a wine manufacturing license, which imposes no such limitation.  Thus, the injury they sustained was the product of their own voluntary business decision.  The catch, however, is that a wine manufacturer must use the three-tier distribution system.  It cannot sell directly to either retailers or consumers.
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