On November 9, 2022, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB” or “Agency”) announced that the Agency is considering updating the alcohol trade practice regulations for the first time in 20 years. The current trade practice regulations, codified at 27 C.F.R. parts 6 (tied house), 8 (exclusive outlets), 10 (commerical bribery) and 11 (consignment sales), prohibit certain practices that threaten the independence of retailers and/or give the industry members an unfair advantage over their competitors.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) recently proposed amendments to 27 CFR Part 4 that would allow winemakers to reference added distilled spirits on labels and in advertisements. Currently, wine labels and advertisements are prohibited from including statements indicating that a wine contains a distilled spirit unless the wine is required to bear a statement of composition which references the use of a distilled spirit. While this 1930’s prohibition sought to protect consumers from misinformation, the TTB acknowledges that as the wine industry has evolved, the regulation has become inconsistent with the TTB’s mission. Allowing this additional information provides manufacturers flexibility and empowers them to communicate with consumers more accurately about their wine products.
Continue Reading TTB Proposes to allow reference to distilled spirits on wine labels and in advertisements
In March 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued temporary guidance documents allowing for the increased production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 outbreak. Due to that guidance, most consumers and healthcare personnel have been able to obtain hand sanitizer without difficulty. Now the FDA plans to withdraw the temporary guidance on December 31st, 2021. This withdrawal impacts any company manufacturing alcohol-based hand sanitizers under the temporary policies.
Continue Reading FDA’s Withdrawal of Temporary Guidance for Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers
On August 23rd the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) struck down federal regulations restricting refunds on export taxes and restricting beer and wine manufacturers greater tax refunds for duties paid on imports. In National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of the Treasury (see ruling here), the Federal Circuit…
In addition to the regulatory requirements imposed on beer labels, as discussed in the Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part I on COLAs, and the intellectual property protection offered by trademarks, as discussed in the Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part II, brewers may consider the value they can create through trade dress and copyright.
Continue Reading Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part III
Aside from the regulatory requirements imposed on beer labels, as discussed in the Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part I post on COLAs, brewers should consider protecting the trademarks featured on their beer labels.
Since every brewer has a brand, consumers most commonly encounter brewers’ trademarks in the form of a brand name or logo. Trademarks serve as source identifiers to distinguish the origin of goods and services and avoid consumer confusion. Typically, a trademark may be a word, phrase, design, or a combination of such items, though trademarks may also protect sounds, colors, and smells under certain conditions. For a beer label, trademark law is best suited to protect the brewery name, sub-brand or inventive beer name, and any slogans or logos.
Continue Reading Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part II
During the height of the pandemic, most states implemented legislative changes and/or policy modifications for sales of alcoholic beverages for the duration of the state’s declared emergency. As the state of emergency orders are lifted, we are seeing most policies go back to pre-COVID licensing requirements and service restrictions, while some states are taking the…
A beer label tells consumers more than just what the bottle or can contains (e.g., brewed hops, grain, yeast, and water). Labels inform consumers of important facts like the alcohol content by volume (ABV) and the net contents of the container, and may also provide insight on the flavor profile of the beer or the ethos of the brewery. Some beer labels may even constitute works of art. However, brewers should be aware that certain regulatory requirements apply to beer labels in the United States, and that certain forms of intellectual property can protect different aspects of beer labels. This post is part of a three-part series, with Part I describing the regulatory requirements for a brewer’s beer label and the authorizations and protections those regulatory requirements confer.
Continue Reading Anatomy of a Beer Label: Part I
The Craft Beverage Modernization Act (“CBMA”) provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 reduced excise taxes levied against all alcoholic beverage producers, large and small, foreign and domestic. In 2020, Congress made those tax cuts permanent and transferred responsibility for administering CBMA imported alcohol provisions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to the Treasury Department effective December 31, 2022. Domestic industry takes direct advantage of CBMA benefits when paying tax to TTB. However, foreign producers and importers will soon have to navigate a new system to take advantage of CBMA tax credits.
Continue Reading Updates to the CBMA: How to Navigate TTB’s Proposed 2023 Refund Claims for Imported Alcohol System
On January 12, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law Bill S2841 amending Chapter 138 of the General Laws by inserting Sec. 25E 1/2. Under M.G.L.A. 138 § 25E ½ “a brewery may, without good cause, terminate the right of a licensed wholesaler to whom such brewery has made regular sales of malt beverages…