Phyllis Schlafly family in beer trademark dispute

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 13, 2014 at 11:54 am •  Published: March 13, 2014
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — To many older Americans, the Schlafly name is most closely associated with Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative commentator known for her campaign to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

A younger generation knows Schlafly as the brand of an up-and-coming St. Louis brewery co-founded by Schlafly's nephew.

Now the federal agency that oversees trademarks is being asked to wade into a dispute within the prominent family and decide whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection.

With a growing national profile and new owners who might want to expand, the brewery started by Tom Schlafly more than two decades ago is seeking a trademark that would give it the exclusive right to use the Schlafly name to sell craft beer. But Phyllis Schlafly has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny the request, lest any implied association with beer sully her 60-year political career.

"There are tens of millions of Americans who oppose alcohol," said Andrew Schlafly, a New Jersey lawyer who represents his mother in the matter. "Certainly alcohol has a connotation that is the opposite of conservative values."

Phyllis Schlafly, now 89, lives in a St. Louis suburb and continues to lead the Eagle Forum, the group she created to prevent ratification of the proposed constitutional amendment on women's rights. These days, the forum fights issues such as same-sex marriage and federal education standards.

Her official biography touts Schlafly as a "leader of the pro-family movement" and "successful opponent of the radical feminist movement." Her daily, syndicated radio commentaries are heard on more than 500 stations. She's written 20 books and continues to produce a monthly newsletter and a syndicated newspaper column.

Schlafly, who is not involved in the beer company, did not respond to several telephone messages seeking comment. Andrew Schlafly said his mother, who like her beer-making nephew is a lawyer, was speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week and was not available for an interview. She is a Schlafly by marriage, not birth: Her late husband was a brother of Tom Schlafly's father.

Andrew Schlafly has filed his own papers opposing the trademark. So has brother Bruce, an orthopedic surgeon in St. Louis. Each petition asserts that the word Schlafly when standing alone "has no usage or meaning other than as a surname."

Phyllis Schlafly's petition says supporters commonly assume she's connected to the beer company. Dr. Bruce Schlafly says his patients make the same mistake.

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