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Beer makers bemoan: there's a limit on available trademark names

Here's a problem with the English language: it's finite.

That is, there is ultimately an end point concerning the universe of naming possibilities for a single commercial product, especially when competitors vying for naming rights are increasing by the day.

That is decidedly the case with beer.

On the one hand, so-called "craft" manufacturers seemingly have endless possibilities for combining ingredients and coming up with new products to tempt the taste buds of consumers.

On the other hand, though, those endless possibilities no longer seem so limitless. Legions of newly arising and highly creative breweries in California and nationally are now sparring with each other to come up with new -- and hitherto unused -- names that are both catchy and immune from trademark infringement names.

Increasingly, as pointed out in an article by the Wall Street Journal article focused upon craft beer trademark litigation, that is becoming ever more difficult to do. The Journal notes, for instance, that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been besieged by more than 25,000 beer-related trademark applications and registrations. Reportedly, the word "squirrel" appears more than 100 times on beer labels.

There are an estimated 4,600-plus craft breweries operating across the country, with the mini-brewery craze being spawned in a major way by California entities such as Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., termed "pioneers" by the Journal.

Some breweries seem to be a bit nonchalant about protecting their trademarked names, whereas others are deadly litigious about their proprietary rights.

"Elbows have definitely sharpened," says the co-founder of one San Diego craft brewery.

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