First, have a look at the poll question and vote, as it's the jumping off point for this SNLC, where the story behind it is summarized in this P-D article by Lisa Brown about perhaps the most infamous member of said family, at least in liberal circles, trying to stop her nephew from obtaining a federal trademark to use the family's name for the craft beer that has been around for over 20 years. It's quite a study in contrasts, on a number of levels. More below the flip.....
As luck would have it, both Schlaflys in this dispute are attorneys. For people on this blog, the name of the older Schlafly, Phyllis, is more familiar, in a bad sense, because of her appallingly retrograde political views, as noted by Brown:
"Phyllis Schlafly, also an attorney, is a nationally known conservative activist who lives in Ladue. In 1972, she founded the Eagle Forum, which helped defeat the proposed ERA. Most recently, the Eagle Forum has opposed gay marriage, gory video games and the Common Core national teaching standards.In short, Phyllis Schlafly was Ann Coulter and Michele Bachmann rolled into one, before either of the latter idiot whackjob bigots came on the scene. Yet arguably, Phyllis Schlafly is more articulate and intelligent than either of the other idiots. It's kind of ironic that Phyllis Schlafly is, in some strange bizarro-world way, a rather perverse kind of model for women in terms of the strength of her convictions and her willingness to stand up for them, as a strange kind of strongly independent thinker. In short, she has the courage of her convictions. It's just that her convictions are despicable and awful.
Phyllis Schlafly’s political views have made her a polarizing figure. When her alma mater, Washington University, gave her an honorary doctorate in 2008, some students and faculty turned their backs to her in a silent protest during the ceremony."
Things are more circumspect on Tom Schalfly's particular politics, as I've not been able to glean which party that he particularly aligns with. But his background profile may or may not give some hints:
"Tom Schlafly, a partner at law firm Thompson Coburn, serves on the St. Louis Public Library board, is a St. Louis Art Museum trustee and is a commentator on St. Louis Public Radio. His mother was Adelaide Mahaffey Schlafly, a well-known civil rights activist who died in 2012. His father, Daniel Schlafly, who died in 1997, was a St. Louis School Board member for 28 years."His commentaries on St. Louis Public Radio seem to indicate more of a socially moderate strain, with perhaps a dollop of libertarianism in the "live and let live" sense (not the Rand Paul kind).
But getting back to the point of all this, namely the beer and the legal fracas. The brief backstory of Schalfly beer is as follows, per Brown:
"Schlafly beer is made downtown and in Maplewood by the St. Louis Brewery Co., a homegrown craft brewery founded in 1991. Its Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout and other beers can now be found in bars as far away as New York and the nation’s capital, as its customer base has grown far beyond its St. Louis roots."Regarding the case itself:
"The trademark case poses no threat to the sale of Schlafly-branded beer, according to Tom Schlafly....the brewery’s largest individual shareholder.To be honest, given the unique nature of the name, it's doubtful that anyone would do that, ironically for a reason that Phyllis Schlafly noted in her filed notice of opposition to the trademark filing (pdf accessible here):
'The full federal trademark has nothing to do with our right to sell beer, and no one is contesting our right to do that,' Tom Schlafly said.
But unresolved is whether it will be able to trademark the brand that’s helped the company grow to be one of the largest craft breweries in the country. The brewery had filed the trademark to ensure other brewers can’t use the name.
'We sell the equivalent of 20 million bottles of beer a year, and we want to keep someone else from selling beer and calling it Schlafly,' he said."
"Trademark registration of my surname for the sale or advertisement of alcoholic beverages, as Applicant seeks, could be harmful to my conservative activities."Of course, from the POV of our side, that would be a good thing :) , although one wonders if she really has much influence any more. But it brings up another point in Brown's article about the name and its associations:
"Tom Schlafly is a nephew to Phyllis Schlafly by marriage — she married his uncle, the late John Fred Schlafly — but she has no connection to the brewery and never has. The question of whether Phyllis Schlafly has ties to the brewery comes up, however, especially in new markets outside of St. Louis."In other words, outside of STL, if you're in a bar and you hear about a beer with that name, if you're of a certain age, you may well wonder about the connection to Phyllis Schalfly. That's a good reason in of itself that no one outside of the St. Louis Brewery is likely to try to poach the name. To give a bit of the legalistic perspective from Tom Schalfly's side, again per Brown's article:
"In answers to the trademark office submitted last April regarding the opposition, the St. Louis Brewery said it has been using the Schlafly mark dating to the 1990s.One outsider perspective, from Yvette Liebesman, assistant professor of law at St. Louis University and a specialist in intellectual property law, indicates that "Schlafly beer has a strong case because the company has used the name in commerce for so long":
The brewery argues that both Phyllis Schlafly and Dr. Bruce Schlafly [son of Phyllis] should have been aware of the use of the name in its business operations for many years and that it holds trademarks that make reference to the name: the St. Louis Brewery holds a trademark for two logos with the Schlafly name used in its advertising.
The claims are further barred because 'Schlafly has become distinctive of Applicant’s good in commerce and has acquired secondary meaning,' the brewery argued in its answer filed with the trademark office."
"The very first time they started selling beer from the tap, that is when they got rights to the mark. They certainly have been around long enough to acquire a secondary meaning."Furthermore, again going back to the point of associations of the Schalfly name:
"To get the trademark, Schlafly beer must show its goods are not likely to be confused with goods sold by others, Liebesman said. Phyllis Schlafly 'would have to prove that there’s a likelihood that people would confuse the two, and I think that’s going to be tough'".What's kind of amusing about the reader comments is that, in contrast to so many stories where right-wing whackjobs hijack the comments section, the majority of the comments are against Phyllis Schalfly. Granted, this is STL, one of the more liberal and Democratic-leaning parts of the state, but there are plenty of wingnuts in town here to pollute comment sections of on-line newspaper pages.
So how will this family legal dispute play out? Not sure at all. (What, you expected 3CM the loser to have an answer here? He's not a lawyer, nor does he play one on TV.) However, from the tenor of the article, it sounds as though Phyllis has a weaker case, beyond whininess about "preserving the family name", which she wasn't even born into, as many of the commenters noted. Plus, if only for purely emotional rather than legal reasons, it would be so nice if she lost. Not very noble thinking, but there it is.
Plus, if nothing else, for those who aren't in STL, if you ever see Schalfly beer in your burg or visit STL where Schalfly beer is either on draft or on the beer list, don't hesitate about trying it, as it's quite good, and again, has nothing to do with Phyllis S. at all. (Whew.) With that, time for the usual SNLC protocol, namely your loser stories for the week.....