The rock music group Guns 'N Roses has filed a suit against the Colorado brewer, Oskar Blues Brewery, for naming one of its beers, Guns 'N Rose (with an accent on the "e" in Rose). The group is asking for injunctive relief because it is an appropriation of their name and is likely to confuse consumers who might believe that there is some form of endorsement or support from them.
The complaint, filed in California, argues that the brewer should not be entitled to "intentionally trade on the GNR’s goodwill, prestige, and fame without GNR’s approval, license, or consent.” The complaint also says that the use has caused and will continue to cause irreparable damage to the group.
The beer is described in Oskar Blues promotional materials as one that it as “sticky prickly pear and floral hibiscus with a subtle hop profile." Oskar Blues did originally seek permission to use the name from GNR, but when the group refused permission, it simply went ahead with the beer and its name.
The names of Oskar Blues beers are creative, but the Guns 'N RosE beer does not currently appear on the site. However, there is one beer there, "G.Knight," which might be the subject of a second suit if singer Gladys Knight becomes concerned about that beer's name. However, that case would be a more difficult one because the full name is noted used and there are no "Pips," that were part of her original singing career (Gladys Knight and the Pips), mentioned in the description or name. The more generic, the less likely a court will be to find consumer confusion.
The suit is based on federal law (trade name infringement) as well as the privacy tort of appropriation of name, image, or likeness for commercial advantage without permission. The suit remains pending.
Explain the basis of the Guns 'N Roses suit.
Discuss what proof is necessary to obtain an injunction to stop the use of the name.
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