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Now Anheuser-Busch Is Trying To Trademark Airport Codes

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 19, 2012 6:20PM

2012_6_19_anheuser_busch.png Anheuser-Busch/InBev is raising eyebrows once again with its trademark registration filings. Last July the beer conglomerate filed trademark registration applications for 14 U.S. telephone area codes. (Curiously, the 314 of A-B's St. Louis was not among them. Correction: It was.)

Now Anheuser-Busch has applied for trademark registrations for 42 U.S. airports, including Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway Airports; New York's LaGuardia and JFK airports; Los Angeles International Airport; and San Francisco International Airport. The class of goods stated in each filing (for a grand total of $11,550 in fees) is "beer." The International Air Association Transport Association owns trademarks on the airport codes, but legalese allows for a company like A-B to file separate trademark registrations for codes like airports and area codes for use in commerce. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Anheuser-Busch permission Monday to complete further requirements to register the area code trademarks

If the USPTO approves the filings, A-B has up to three years to use the trademarks. The area code trademark registration led to speculation that A-B was trying to mimic the success of 312 Urban Wheat Ale, the popular beer by Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company—which Anheuser-Busch bought last year—in other cities. Trademark law attorney Scott Slavick told the Chicago Tribune last year there's no problem with using a trademark, and that a "212 Urban Wheat Ale" could show up with or without a trademark.

"If the patent and trademark office says you're OK and no third parties have a problem with it, then you get what's called a notice of allowance. Then you have three years from that date to demonstrate use of your mark in order to get it registered.

"The fact that they filed on an intent-to-use basis doesn't mean that they couldn't already be using these marks or intend to come out with them at any time."