Archives: Distribution

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Legal, Political and Practical Challenges in Regulating Recreational Marijuana

On March 30, eight bills were introduced by senior members of Congress from both parties to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. The bills were referred to at least five House Committees, as they address federal criminal law, taxation, banking, transportation, immigration, veterans’ affairs, access to federal benefits and other issues. The legislative activity follows establishment … Continue Reading

Understanding the Three-Tier System: Its Impacts on U.S. Craft Beer and You

Understanding the U.S. market for alcohol beverages, including beer, requires an understanding of the three-tier system. Whether viewed with deep reverence or great scorn, it is a system of distribution that delivers the vast majority of beer to the mouths of thirsty American drinkers. Let’s take a few moments to understand that system a little … Continue Reading

The Uncertain Legal Future of Wine Direct Shipping by the Retail Tier

The Supreme Court of the United States’ 2005 decision in Granholm v. Heald, which required states allowing their own wineries to direct-ship to consumers to also grant such privileges to out-of-state wineries, marked the beginning of a new era of wine direct-shipping. With the relaxation of wine shipping laws around the country following Granholm—nearly every … Continue Reading

Texas Court of Appeals Hands Down Instructive Administrative Law Opinion

A recent Texas Court of Appeals decision, EATX Coffee, LLC v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, provides an important reminder of how principles of administrative law may check the current trend towards “regulation by Internet.” Ct. of App of Texas, 4th Dist., No. 04-16-00213-CV (Dec. 7, 2016). Like TTB and many other state alcohol beverage authorities, the Texas … Continue Reading

Exporting Craft Beer to Europe

Until recently, few would have predicted that US craft beers would find their way into European markets, yet today they are successfully meeting European tastes. Craft beers are increasingly able to compete with other products in Europe, such as wine, and there is increasing market demand in Europe for innovative, rare and exotic beers. US … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Asked to Clarify the Interaction Between the 21st Amendment and the Commerce Clause

The Texas Package Stores Association has asked the US Supreme Court (via a “Petition of Certiorari”) to hear a case that could clarify the interaction between the 21st Amendment and the non-discrimination between states principle of the “dormant” Commerce Clause. The case arose in Texas, where the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ultimately … Continue Reading

The BA’s Growing Influence on Capitol Hill

How is it that the Brewers Association—an organization that has no political action committee, has employed a staff lobbyist for only 18 months, and has only had a strong presence in Washington since 2009—has gained significant traction among policymakers in the nation’s capital? The BA is now a serious player in Washington. That is not … Continue Reading

New TTB Final Rule Released on Denatured Alcohol

The new TTB Final Rule that was released in the Federal Register on August 20, 2016 will partially streamline the use of non-beverage alcohol products in the US. While statutory requirements do not permit TTB to completely de-regulate the distribution and sale of denatured alcohol, the attached rule, among other things: Reclassifies a number of “specially … Continue Reading

Texas Court Strikes Down Prohibition on Payments for Brand Rights

Late last week, a district judge in Texas declared unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution a provision of the state’s Beer Industry Fair Dealing Law (i.e., the beer “franchise” law) that expressly prohibits a brewer from accepting a payment in exchange for a grant of territorial distribution rights.  Section 102.75(a)(7) of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Tri County Decision Provides Much-Needed Clarity on “Successor” Provision in Ohio Franchise Law

I attach a copy of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s recent decision in Tri County Wholesale Distributors v. Labatt USA Operating Company, Nos. 15-3710/3769 (6th Cir., July 6, 2016). For students of the increasingly byzantine case law interpreting the Ohio franchise law’s “successor” provision, Ohio Rev. Code § 1333.85(D), the opinion … Continue Reading

Non-Compete Agreements: Friend or Foe?

With the boom of craft producers, competition is ever-increasing. If you’re thinking about going into the business or you already have, undoubtedly you have considered how you can best protect your products, recipes, methodologies, and distribution from imitation or recreation. The sale and manufacture of unique craft drinks creates a unique set of issues and … Continue Reading

Guidance Provided on Interplay of “Dormant” Commerce Clause and the 21st Amendment

On April 21, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit handed down its opinion in Cooper v. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, No. 14-51343.  It provides further guidance, at least within the Fifth Circuit, on the interplay of the “dormant” Commerce Clause and the 21st Amendment following the Supreme Court of the United States’ … Continue Reading

Join McDermott Partner Marc Sorini at the Annual Craft Brewers’ Conference

The annual Craft Brewers’ Conference will be held on May 3-6, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA. McDermott partner, Marc Sorini will give two presentations: Wednesday, May 4, 1:20-2:20 pm: Marc will kick off his annual government affairs presentation by summarizing the results of recent research to be published in The New Brewer proving that no legally-mandated three-tier … Continue Reading

A Practical Blueprint for Distribution

Whether you’re an experienced brewer getting ready to enter a new state, a startup packaging brewery looking to serve your home market, or a brewpub expanding to provide products to local retailers, you need a viable distribution plan. In recent years, individual brewers have deepened their understanding of industry dynamics in the heavily regulated beer … Continue Reading

Tied House Laws and Category Management: A Continuing Quandary

On March 16, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) published a list of frequently asked questions expanding further on a ruling issued in February on application of the federal “tied house law” to industry promotional activities, specifically category management practices employed by retailers. TTB claims that a formal rulemaking to revise … Continue Reading

Ohio Court of Appeals Upholds a Successor Manufacturer’s Termination of a Distribution Franchise

The “successorship” provision of Ohio’s franchise law for alcohol beverages has spawned much litigation over the past two decades.  Premium Beverage Supply, Ltd. v. TBK Production Works, Inc. represents the latest chapter of this saga, providing further clarity on several issues in the Ohio Alcoholic Beverage Franchise Act (Franchise Act). In Premium Beverage Supply, the … Continue Reading

Product Recalls

Potential product recall situations rank among the most stressful that a producer can face. Things move fast and decisions must be made with less-than-perfect information. While no preparation will render such situations easy or routine, a producer can reduce the stress level and help navigate this “worst-case” scenario by understanding the process and taking certain … Continue Reading

Buying and Selling a Craft Brewery

Few craft brew entrepreneurs contemplate selling their business when they first get started.  Unlike, for example, the typical entrepreneur in the software industry, the craft brewers we know were inspired by the love of great beer, a spirit of adventure, and the romance of creating a small manufacturing business.  But the life cycle of most … Continue Reading

South Carolina Court Upholds Constitutionality of Statutory Limitation on Retail Dealer Licenses

Retail Services & Systems, Inc., dba Total Wine & More v. South Carolina Department of Revenue and ABC Stores of South Carolina A trial-level court in South Carolina recently issued an opinion upholding the constitutionality of the state’s statutory limitation on the number of retail dealer licenses granted to an individual or corporation.  The plaintiff, … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s 2014-15 Term: Case Will Test an Important Limitation on the Ability to Challenge State Tax Laws

On December 8, 2014, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case that could have significant implications for the ability to use the federal courts to challenge state attempts to tax remote sellers of goods. In Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl, 735 F.3d 904 (10th Cir. 2013), the Tenth Circuit Court … Continue Reading

Local Wholesaler-Retailer Dispute Has Federal Implications

On August 14, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi issued an opinion finding that state regulations bolstered one antitrust claim and hindered another in an ongoing dispute between a northern Mississippi convenience store chain, Major Mart, and an Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI, a/k/a “Red Network”) distributor, Mitchell Distributing Company. In Mississippi, by … Continue Reading

New IRS Regulations Affect Brewers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued final regulations (the Repair Regulations) that determine when taxpayers may deduct costs to acquire, produce or maintain tangible property, including all equipment and buildings.  The Repair Regulations apply to all taxpayers, including brewers of all sizes.  Taxpayers must follow these new rules in 2014, which generally will require … Continue Reading
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