Protecting Your Brand: The Importance of Intellectual Property in the Alcohol Industry

In 2023, the alcoholic drinks industry had a revenue of $1,609 billion and is estimated to grow yearly by 5.42% until 2027.

These figures suggest a thriving alcohol industry, and you can attribute a part of this growth to branding efforts through intellectual property principles.

Suppose you manage a liquor business and want to widen your brand’s reach. How important is protecting your intellectual property rights? How does protecting your intellectual property protect your brand?

How do you protect your business brand and intellectual property rights? What can happen if you don’t protect your intellectual property?

This article discusses the importance of intellectual property for brands within the alcohol industry. It explains how businesses selling alcohol can protect their brands by securing their intellectual property.

Why Intellectual Property in the Alcohol Industry is Important

Intellectual property is a concept pertaining to products created by the human intellect that should be provided with the same protection as physical or tangible properties.

Intellectual property covers intangible assets like copyrights, trademarks, and patents and can expire after some time or last forever, depending on the asset type.

For many businesses in the alcohol industry, protecting brand assets can be as important as acknowledging the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption versus the long-term health issues of excessive drinking.

Intellectual property rights foster innovation and help businesses thrive in the market. These rights ensure that customers reap the benefits of a brand’s inventions as it focuses more on research and development.

If you’re running a distillery, craft brewery, or vineyard, you may have heard of similar businesses engaging in trademark battles within your industry. Many of these lawsuits usually involve labeling and branding cases.

Without the protection afforded to intellectual property, anyone can copy that property without authorization from those that created it, leading to a potential loss of that property’s value.

For example, one company may sue another for using an emblem that’s similar to the first company’s logo. Bringing this case to court can help the offended company protect its logo’s value and, at the same time, preserve the integrity of its branding.

Another case is when the company files a complaint against another for using a trademarked word or name that belongs to the first party.

One instance of this case was when Sazerac sued Jack Daniels for using “Fireball” in the latter’s cinnamon-flavored whiskey.

Fireball is also the name of Sazerac’s cinnamon-flavored liquor, so placing that name on a competitor’s product may confuse consumers.

Such litigations happen because the complaining party wants to protect its intellectual property and ensure that others can’t use such assets without consent from the property owner.

Intellectual property can hold a high value and potential competitive advantage in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. So companies are keen-eyed when it comes to protecting this property.

Additionally, intellectual property that produces value requires the company to invest heavily in the time and brainpower of skilled labor. The organization must protect these investments so that others can’t access or use them without authorization.

Overall, companies are responsible for extracting value from their intellectual property while preventing others from gaining value from it. Although intellectual property is intangible, it can become more valuable than the company’s physical assets.

How to Protect Your Brand and Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights (IPR) allow owners to prevent others from recreating, copying, and exploiting such works without authorization.

Intellectual property has several types that protect particular products for a specific duration. In the U.S., these types include the following:

  • Patent: Applies to inventions, computer codes, and industrial designs and has a 20-year duration
  • Copyright: Applies to authorship works like books, films, music, pictures, and online content and lasts for 70 years after the author’s death
  • Trademark: Applies to unique identifiers like brand names or logos and lasts for as long as the trademarked property is active

In some cases, trademarks can apply to domain names, a string of characters stored in a web server space occupied by other digital works of copyright.

Once your patent or copyright expires, these IPRs will become part of the public domain, meaning others can freely use and market your creation.

Another type of intellectual property is a trade secret. This property is the company’s practice or process that isn’t shared with the public, giving the company an economic advantage since competitors don’t have access to this information.

One way to protect trade secrets is through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). NDAs are legally binding contracts establishing a confidential relationship. The parties signing the contract agree that they mustn’t provide sensitive company information to others.

Suppose your brewery has a specific formula or process for creating a beer that’s unique to your business. An NDA can help protect this formula from being obtained by your competitors.

If you still need help protecting your brand, you can seek legal assistance from a law firm like Cohn Legal, which specializes in IPR, including trademarks and patents. If you’re in New York or Boston, you can contact Cohn Legal at 212-203 0957 (New York) or 617-616-5761 (Boston).


  1. Alcoholic Drinks – Worldwide

  1. What Is Intellectual Property, and What Are Some Types?

  1. Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) Explained, With Pros and Cons

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