South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Generic Portion of Service Mark Not Protectable
Description Appeals court held that "Bob the Beerman" at Colorado Rockies baseball games could not protect "beerman" from use by Coors brewing. The term is generic and Coors' use of the term would not be confused with the person people at Rockies' games may have seen.
Topic Intellectual Property
Key Words Trademark; Service Mark; Infringement; Lanham Act
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Robert Donchez sells beer at Colorado Rockies baseball games in Denver. He became known at games as "Bob the Beerman" for his distinctive and outspoken character. He also sold beer at other sporting events and appeared in the media for various charitable events. He wrote a book and produced a video about himself. In 1996 he discussed a Bob the Beerman advertising campaign with Coors, but the company decided against it. In 1997, Coors began new television advertisements. In some of them, vendors were referred to as "the beerman" or "Hey, beerman." Donchez sued Coors, contending service mark infringement at common law and under the Lanham Act. The district court dismissed the suit, Donchez appealed.

Affirmed. Coors' use of "beerman" did not misappropriate the "Bob the Beerman" service mark. The characters in the ads were not alike and the themes were different. The term "beerman" is generic and so cannot be protected against use by others unless it can be shown that it acquired secondary meaning.

Citation Donchez v. Coors Brewing Co., 392 F.3d 1211 (10th Cir., 2004)

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