New Realm Brewery filed an application to register a beer it named “Ragegast” but was met with opposition by Saul Zaentz, owner of eight existing registrations on the “Radagast” name of the fictional wizard character in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth books. As an owner or licensee of the rights, Zaentz argues the character name has been “so widely publicized that these marks point uniquely to oppose as the source of origin of all such products and services bearing the mark.” Zaentz argues that “Many businesses have been granted the right to use the ‘Radagast’ marks, and other marks derived from the movie, in connection with a wide range of goods and services throughout the United States — including utility items such as mugs — that might be sold through the same trade channels as applicant’s beer.” Zaentz and the heirs of Tolkien vigorously police and litigate against businesses that even remotely could be associated with the Tolkein characters. The craft brewery industry should be forewarned about any beer names that intentionally or unintentionally fall in this territory.
Interestingly, SABMiller, owns an entire Czech Republic beer company called Radegast but it does not appear to sell in the U.S. SABMiller would likely have a stronger argument to use and register the mark for beer based on long term use of the brand prior to registration and use in the U.S. compared to New Realm with no association or prior use of the brand.
The case number is 91239735.