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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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Nearly 18 months after Phyllis Schlafly filed her complaint, settlement talks continue. The brewery filed its application in 2011, not long before Schlafly and his partner, Dan Kopman, sold a majority of the brewery to Sage Capital LLC, a local private equity firm.

"I would like to get this settled and move on with selling beer," said Tom Schlafly, who remains the company's largest shareholder and its board chairman.

Schlafly beer is brewed in downtown St. Louis and in suburban Maplewood by the St. Louis Brewery Inc. The company produced 56,000 barrels of beer in 2013, making it the 44th largest craft brewery in the country, according to industry tallies.

As the company explores entry into new markets, the new ownership group decided to take steps to protect its brand.

"If we're going to make a significant investment and build the brewery, we want to add this," Tom Schlafly said in an interview at his downtown law office overlooking the Gateway Arch. "The bigger you are, the more likely you are to have other people copy you."

Opposition to the trademark may not be limited to members of Schlafly family. Anheuser-Busch has been given an extension through early April to file its own protest. Spokeswoman Lisa Weser said the makers of Budweiser have yet to decide on the issue but are keeping their options open.

"As the largest St. Louis brewery with more than 150 years of heritage in the city, we believe 'The Saint Louis Brewery' should not be trademarked by any one brewer," she said in a written statement.

Tom Schlafly declined to discuss the legal issues raised in the trademark dispute. He said the flap has not spilled over into a full-blown family feud and that he remains friendly with his aunt and cousins, whom he typically sees once or twice a year at holiday gatherings or weddings.

He also pointed out that the Eagle Forum and the brewery both oppose proposed changes to Missouri's liquor-franchise laws sought by distillers. That, he said, is evidence that the two sides can work together on some alcohol issues.

Nor does Schlafly want to insert his business into a political squabble.

"She has fans and critics," he said. "I want to sell to both of them. The last thing I want to do is antagonize her followers because I hope they drink Schlafly beer, too."

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier .