When Empire Brewing Co., a brewpub in Syracuse, NY, applied to trademark the name “Empire Strikes Bock” the alarms went off at the offices of Lucasfilm’s legal staff. They promptly notified the government they were opposed to granting the mark.
From Lucasfilm’s opposition filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office you can see how hard it is to pull the wool over their eyes:
Applicant’s EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK mark is virtually identical in sound, appearance, and connotation to Lucasfilm’s THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark, differing by only one letter in the respective last words “BOCK” and “BACK,” and the initial word “THE.”
Now that you point it out, there is a resemblance….
“We named it ‘Strikes Bock’ because we thought it was a clever pun,” said Monica Palmer, Empire’s director of marketing. “We weren’t trying to infringe on anything. We were just trying to make a nice beer with a funny name.”
Empire has been selling this beer for 7 years, with no objections from Lucasfilm. On the other hand, the brewer also let years go by before trying to trademark the name. Did someone get greedy?
[Thanks to Morris Keesan for the story.]