After decades of filing countless lawsuits against unofficial varieties of ‘Duff Beer’, Twentieth Century Fox has finally decided to lodge an Australian trade mark for the fictional beer brand which covers real alcoholic beer.
Made famous as the popular beer consumed on TV show The Simpsons, studio Twentieth Century Fox has always backed away from lodging a trade mark for the brand covering alcoholic beverages. It has also historically reacted fast to any brewery company attempting to produce a real Duff Beer. This steadfast stand seems to be spurred by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, who has been against producing an alcoholic Duff Beer “because it would encourage kids to drink”.
However, just this month that attitude may have changed, with a new Simpsons theme park in the US starting to serve a real alcoholic Duff Beer. The lodgement of an Australian trade mark could suggest this officially endorsed alcoholic Duff Beer could make its way Down Under some time in the future.
Twentieth Century Fox already holds Australian trade marks for the Duff Beer logo from 1999, covering various souvenir items, such as posters, calendars and drinking glasses. It also held a lapsed Australian trade mark for the Duff Beer logo lodged in the same year, covering non-alcoholic soft drinks.
The new trade mark application for the term ‘Duff Beer’ – TM number 1562201 – was lodged this week, on 12 June, and specifically covers:
Class: 32 Beers and ales; non-alcoholic beers; lagers; stouts and porters
Twentieth Century Fox could be looking to further its protection of the trade mark, rather than produce an alcoholic Duff Beer in Australia.
Just last year, a West Australian liquor wholesaler found itself in legal trouble with Twentieth Century Fox after selling the German imported ‘Legendary Duff Beer’. The studio also fought off Australian beverage and food company Lion Nathan in 1996, when it produced a beer called ‘Duff’ and also lodged (and ultimately withdrew) a trade mark for ‘Duff Beer’ covering alcoholic goods.
There has been many more international attempts to brew a real Duff Beer, most of which are promptly shot down by legal action from Fox.
For example, the German firm ‘Duff Beer UG’ has fought numerous battles to continue selling the previously mentioned ‘Legendary Duff Beer’ across Europe. For instance, it lodged for a European-wide trade mark for ‘Duff Beer’, which was successfully opposed by Twentieth Century Fox. Duff Beer UG is appealing to the European Court Of Justice to get that opposition overturned. Duff Beer UG and a rival German brewery have also spent numerous years in a legal spat to be the sole owner of the Duff trade mark in Germany.
Only three months ago, Chilean police seized 60,000 Duff-branded beer bottles following an intellectual property complaint from, you guessed it, Twentieth Century Fox.
All these legal crackdowns have made unofficial Duff Beer a collector’s item, especially in Australia. For instance, an empty carton for the 1996 Nathan Lion ‘Duff’ beer is currently on eBay Australia for $89, and an empty six-pack of ‘Legendary Duff Beer’ is on eBay Australia for $40.
The new Australian trade mark application was lodged by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and an Australian legal representative, Baker & McKenzie.
Click to view a screenshot of the new alcoholic Duff Beer trade mark application. Also take a look at the lapsed non-alcoholic and the still active souvenir Duff Beer trade mark applications from 1999.