ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
ALCOHOL LAW ADVISOR
Regulatory and Distribution Law Updates for the Alcohol Industry
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TTB in a Deregulatory Mood

Changes in Administration and other political shifts can have subtle and, occasionally, not-so-subtle influences in the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) policies and priorities. In the article, “TTB in a Deregulatory Mood” published by Artisan Spirit, Marc Sorini explores how the Trump Administration’s desire to reduce regulatory burdens on business has already influenced TTB’s regulatory priorities. Particularly, in the most recent “Unified Agenda,” a bi-annual compilation of federal regulatory initiatives, TTB placed a priority on deregulatory projects, several of which would alter the regulatory environment for the industry. Marc discusses how the change in administration appears to have an effect on TTB’s rulemaking efforts. Access the full article. Originally published in Artisan Spirit, Spring 2018.

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TTB Expands COLA Allowable Revisions

TTB Industry Circular 2018-2, dated March 26, 2018, expanded the list of allowable revisions for approved Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) applications. The three new allowable revisions are to: Add, delete, or change between TTB approved responsibility statements; Add, delete, or change between TTB approved sustainable farming/environmental/eco-friendly claims; and Add, delete, or change between TTB approved food pairing recommendations. The Industry Circular also expanded the TTB approved statements under the allowable revision regarding how to best consume or serve the product. For a complete list of approved statements for these new and expanded allowable revisions, please see the full Industry Circular located here.

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The Intersection of Spirits and Marijuana

In the past three years, TTB has approved an increasing number of certificate of label approvals (“COLA”) for hemp-flavored vodka, from Mill Six’s hemp, white tea and ginger flavored vodka to Olde Imperial Mystic’s hemp infused vodka. Distillers have designed labels with green smoke-like images and psychedelic sixties-style lettering to hint at their cultural connection to marijuana. As more states have legalized recreational cannabis, distillers have been thinking more ambitiously about combining their distilling business with one or more aspects of the emerging marijuana business. Read the full article. Originally published in Artisan Spirit: Winter 2017.

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Ruling in the Asahi Beer Class Action

Last month the US District Court for the Central District of California issued an order in the Shalikar v. Asahi Beer U.S.A., Inc. false advertising class action case. Like many similar cases, Shalikar alleges that the plaintiffs, as representatives of a purported class of consumers, were deceived into paying more for Asahi beer because they believed the beer was made in Japan when, in fact, the beer sold in the United States was produced in Canada. In the recent order, the court denied Asahi’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim (a 12(b)(6) motion). The Shalikar plaintiffs brought their case under California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, and False Advertising Law, and also pled common-law claims for breach of implied warranty, fraud, intentional misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Asahi beer that is sold in the United States is brewed in Canada, and each label states “Brewed and Bottled under Asahi’s Supervision by...

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TTB Issues Updated Guidance on Personalized Labels

Recently, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) issued an update to its existing public guidance on personalized labels. The current update clarifies the process for obtaining an approved COLA for personalized labels without requiring the applicant to resubmit the COLA application for certain changes made to the labels.

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Environmental Claims in Advertising

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.

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Avoiding Misleading Labeling

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...

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Trademark Tips for Small Distillers

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).

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Labeling and Advertising Gluten-Free Beer

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.

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TTB Issues Expanded List of Allowable Changes to Approved Labels

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): Deletion or revision of sponsorship themed graphics, logos, artwork, events, etc. and/or sponsorship information Addition, deletion or revision of awards, ratings or recognitions (i.e., “rated as the best 2012 wine by x association”) 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.) Revision of an approved sulfite/sulphite statement according to the formats prescribed in the Industry Circular (“Contains Sulfites/Sulphites,”...

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