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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Texas Court Affirms Constitutionality of Statute Prohibiting Brewers from Selling Distribution Rights to Their Products

Texas craft beer distributors received an early Christmas present in 2017. On December 15, 2017, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District, at Austin issued an opinion in Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission v. Live Oak Brewing Co., et al. (NO. 03-16-00786-CV) in which the court overturned a lower court’s determination that a statute prohibiting self-distributing brewers from selling the distribution rights to their products was unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution. In 2014, Live Oak Brewing Co., Revolver Brewing and Peticolas Brewing Co. (all Texas-based craft breweries that self-distribute) joined together in a suit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (Commission) challenging the constitutionality of a provision in Texas’ alcohol beverage control law that prohibits brewers from selling the distribution rights to their products. The provision at issue, Tex. Alco. Bev. Code § 102.75(a)(7), provides that it is unlawful for a brewer...

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Implications of Recent Supreme Court Free Speech Decision

On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Matal v. Tam, declaring the Trademark Act’s (commonly referred to as the “Lanham Act”) “disparagement clause” unconstitutional as a violation of the free speech principles embodied in the First Amendment. If the case name doesn’t ring a bell, the players involved might. The decision was the culmination of Simon Shiao Tams’ fight to obtain a federal trademark registration for “THE SLANTS” for use in connection with his rock band. The term “Slants” can be used as a racially pejorative word for persons of Asian descent and was selected by the Asian-American band in an effort to “reclaim” the derogatory term. Tam’s win at the Supreme Court, however, wasn’t only a victory for his band. The Washington Redskins, who are also engaged in a protracted legal battle to maintain their trademark registrations despite challenge from a Native American group, hailed the decision a success. The Redskins’ owner, Dan...

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Texas Court of Appeals Reverses T.G.I. Friday’s Label Decision

On Friday, October 13, 2017, a Texas Court of Appeals handed down the long-awaited decision in Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission v. Mark Anthony Brewing, Inc., No. 03-16-00039-CV. The case involves Texas’ ban on private-label malt beverage/beer labels, which appear in regulations that are one aspect of the state’s comprehensive tied-house laws. Mark Anthony Brewing sought a declaratory ruling on those Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) regulations after the TABC refused to approve the labels for Mark Anthony’s T.G.I. Friday’s branded flavored malt beverages. T.G.I. Friday’s is also, of course, a well-known retail chain. Mark Anthony produces the T.G.I. Friday’s line under a trademark license from the retailer, as governed by a trademark licensing agreement between the parties. A Texas trial court ruled in favor of Mark Anthony, holding that the TABC regulations in question violate the First Amendment. The trial court further ruled that Mark...

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