Arthur DeCelle wrote this bylined article describing how brewers can use product labels, point of sale (POS) advertising, social networks, and other media to tell customers about their environmental responsibility efforts. Such information “must be truthful and substantiated by evidence [and] must not be deceptive to reasonable consumers,” Mr. DeCelle wrote, urging brewers to “carefully consider the language you use and any potential for consumer deception [regarding] false or deceptive environmental claims.”

Read the full article.

Originally published in New Brewer, March/April 2017.

Current conventional wisdom in the craft beer business holds that being local helps sell more beer. This has led many brewers to emphasize their local roots on their labels and in their marketing efforts. In some ways, the trend has a “back to the future” feel, as labels and marketing materials once again feature place names that often became the brand names for many of the first generation of craft brewers in the 1980s.

But the emphasis on place can come with a price: the prospect of legal hurdles, including lawsuits, over allegations that a brand name, label, or advertisement misrepresents the beer’s place of production. Legally this subject usually goes by the name “geographic misdescription,” itself a subset of false advertising law. How can brewers minimize their chances of becoming the target of a lawsuit or government investigation alleging that a beer’s labeling or marketing deceived consumers?

Read the full article, originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of The New Brewer.

What’s in a name? (Or a slogan, logo, symbol or other source-identifying device?) Well, turns out a lot. While the craft spirits industry is a tight knit and collegial community, businesses must strive to create a unique and distinctive place in the market that makes their products stand out from the rest. For small distillers, who may have leaner advertising budgets than the spirits giants, one effective way to plant your flat in the ground and say “This is who we are, come and join us!” is through trademarks.

A trademark is any word, name, symbol, logo and/or device the identifies the goods and services of one party, and distinguishes such offerings from those of others.

Below we provide some tips and recommendations for small distillers to consider when selecting and protecting trademarks.

Read the full article (originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Artisan Spirit).

In the past decade, millions of Americans have converted to gluten-free diets. Originally a practice dictated solely by the medical needs of those who suffer from celiac disease, gluten-free has entered the mainstream. This article will explore the evolving and somewhat uncertain status of labeling and advertising beer as “gluten-free.”

Read the full article, originally published in the July/August 2015 issue of The New Brewer.

On Monday, September 29 2014, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued Industry Circular 2014-2, which expands the list of Allowable Revisions to Approved Alcohol Beverage Labels.

Industry Circular 2014-2 permits the following changes to already-approved malt beverage, wine and distilled spirits labels without the need for a new certificate of label approval (COLA):

  1. Deletion or revision of sponsorship themed graphics, logos, artwork, events, etc. and/or sponsorship information
  2. Addition, deletion or revision of awards, ratings or recognitions (i.e., “rated as the best 2012 wine by x association”)
  3. Deletion of organic claims (Note: The deletion of a single organic claim is not permitted.  All organic claims must be removed from the label or a new COLA is required to delete individual references.)
  4. Revision of an approved sulfite/sulphite statement according to the formats prescribed in the Industry Circular (“Contains Sulfites/Sulphites,” “Contains (a) Sulfiting//Sulphiting Agent(s),” “Contains [name of specific sulfating/sulphating agent],” “Contains Naturally Occurring and Added Sulfites/Sulphites” or “Contains Naturally Occurring Sulfites/Sulphites”)
  5. Addition, deletion or revision of information regarding the number of bottles made, produced, distilled or brewed in a batch
  6. Addition of instructional statements vis-à-vis how to best consume and/or serve the product specified in the Industry Circular (“Refrigerate After Opening,” “Do Not Store In Direct Sunlight,” “Best If Frozen For ___ to ___ Hours,” “Shake Well,” “Pour Over Ice,” “Best When Chilled,” “Best Served Chilled,” “Serve Chilled,” “Serve at Room Temperature”)

Hard cider has shown phenomenal growth in the past several years.  With rising consumer demand, more and more craft brewers are entering this rapidly expanding market. Although hard cider is typically distributed and mar­keted like a beer product, the federal gov­ernment and most states actually tax and regulate cider as a type of wine.  Brewers contemplating the production of cider ac­cordingly must carefully consider the legal issues surrounding cider production and distribution that distinguish cider from beer.  This article outlines some of the most important (though certainly not all) of these issues.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2014 issue of The New Brewer.