Ravinia Festival Sues A Craft Brewery For Trademark Infringement

The Ravinia Festival Association, whose grassy lawns come alive with a slew of summer concerts every year, filed an updated complaint in a trademark infringement case against Ravinia Brewing Company, a craft brewery in Highland Park, over the use of their shared neighborhood moniker.

The updated complaint in the federal lawsuit between the non-profit music organization and the microbrewery accuses the brewing company founders of intending to, “trade and infringe on the Ravinia [Festival Association] name and trademark” from the start of their business plan.

Relying on newly produced business documents from Ravinia Brewing Company, the festival argues the documents reveal how the brewing company intended to “falsely imply” an association with the Ravinia Festival.

Ravinia Festival also filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last week requesting the cancellation of Ravinia Brewing Company’s registered trademark, on the grounds that the brewery knowingly made false statements in its application to register the Ravinia Brewing mark with the USTPO.

The petition alleges RBC signed the “no confusion declaration” on the USTPO application despite knowing the declaration was false. The clause states that, “no other persons … have the right to use the mark in commerce in the identical form or in such near resemblance as to be likely, when used on or in connection with the goods/services … of such other persons to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive.”

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois also approved the festival’s request to add Ravinia Brewing IP, LLC as a defendant to the 11-count complaint first filed in October 2023, alleging the brewery violated a since-rescinded 2018 agreement to limit the use of their shared name.

According to the updated complaint filed on May 24, the music festival only recently learned of Ravinia Brewing IP (RBIP), a Delaware-based company that allegedly owns all intellectual property used by Ravinia Brewing Company (RBC) and licenses the intellectual property to the brewpub and “possibly others.”

The complaint states Ravinia Brewing IP is a “necessary party” in the lawsuit for Ravinia Festival to, “obtain complete relief.”

In a press release from the Ravinia Brewing Company, the brewpub calls for community support against the “unjust litigation.”

“The lesson taught to us by Ravinia Festival Association’s lawsuit is Ravinia Festival Association can strong arm a small business like Ravinia Brewing Company to close their doors by filing a lawsuit against a business whose families cannot afford to defend,” the press release said. “Anyone who has been financially bullied and under financial duress by someone with more money will know exactly how we feel.”

In the release, the brewing company asks: “Is there really anyone who believes that the Ravinia Festival Association, with its $60M in cash reserves and seemingly unlimited legal and PR resources, is damaged by RBC when you enjoy RBC beer and tacos?”

The founders of the brewing company plead in the news release for Ravinia Festival board members and community members to request the litigation end immediately.

Prior to taking legal action against the brewery, the festival made efforts to work privately with the brewery, Ravinia President and CEO Jeffrey Haydon said.

“The recent revelations expose a troubling pattern of behavior, including the brewery’s intentions from the outset to capitalize on Ravinia’s brand and its ambitions to operate nationally,” Haydon said in a statement. “The brewery’s disregard for our trademark rights and misrepresentations to Ravinia and the community left us no choice but to take further action to protect Ravinia’s trademark.”

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