Texans, especially those in the Bexar County area, are more familiar with the Alamo’s role in history, memory and culture than anyone else, but now the building is taking on a new sheen. One that may involve a San Antonio lawyer, since the Texas General Land Office tightening its grip on licenses without which retail product labels can’t display an image of the building, according to this interesting article online.
Regardless of whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or just like to buy local, if you’re from the San Antonio area, you’ve probably heard of or seen the labels produced by the Alamo Beer Co., which uses the silhouette of the Alamo on its bottles. It was one of the first companies to have to grab hold of their own San Antonio lawyer as it came under fire for violating the protected building’s trademarked image and name. But this aggression on the part of the GLO “reflects a recent change in the state agency’s policies.” Never before had they really needed to worry about it, but since newly elected Land Commissioner George P. Bush came into office, things have changed. Mostly for the beer producers. Alamo Beer isn’t the only target for the GLO’s crackdown on the unofficial and unlicensed use of the Alamo’s image—Texan Brewing is another one.
The San Antonio lawyer for Alamo Beer, Co. managed to get their case with the GLO settled successfully, but he was outspoken for media articles about how the change of policy is impacting retail products in Texas. They’ve “never enforced trademarks for the state of Texas before. It’s a first from that standpoint,” and “the ramifications of the new GLO policy are widespread.”
Which, when you stop and think about it for a second, couldn’t be nearer the truth. The image of “that silhouette” is indeed all over the place, from being slapped across bottles of water to “tie tacks, barbeque sauce, pickled okra and museum services.” Are all these manufacturers and service providers expected to lawyer up or change their branding? One San Antonio lawyer who practices business law in Texas, Douglas Shumway might agree with the general foreboding sentiment: it’s just expected now that the GLO will “become more aggressive in policing its trademark rights.”
So Alamo Beer, Co. was the first company to purchase a license of a GLO trademark to continue using the Alamo’s silhouette on their bottles of ale and beer. But Texian didn’t want to spend the estimated $100,000 on litigation, so they re-imaged their branding, and while they continue to sell Texas-themed beer, they’ve tried to put the Alamo out of their minds.
The GLO wasn’t commenting on any of this activity, of course, but for the state of Texas, is this just another source of revenue? Is it a point of pride that our history shouldn’t be diluted by cheap libations? Or were Texans on the verge of forgetting the Alamo, and in need of a slap on the wrist to always remember?