A federal judge has rejected parts of Shipyard’s lawsuit against a Missouri brewery as part of a long-running legal feud.

Shipyard filed a patent lawsuit against Logboat over its “Shiphead” beer last spring. The company alleged its name and its labeling were too similar to Shipyard’s name and labeling. After the suit was filed, Shipyard added a defamation claim to its original lawsuit. That portion of the suit was dismissed Dec. 29 by U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey.

Shipyard alleged a wave of one-star reviews popped up on a variety of sites after the lawsuit was filed, and it blamed Logboat employees for encouraging the negative reviews.

On Facebook, Shipyard’s 353 one-star reviews outnumber its 27 two-star reviews and 118 three-star reviews. A number of the one-star reviews directly reference the feud with Logboat.

“They should keep to bottling that sewage they call beer instead of suing great breweries states away,” one Facebook user wrote in a one-star review.

U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughrey said Shipyard’s claims of harm weren’t strong enough to pass legal muster.

“The phrase ‘trademark bully’ is an imprecise description or subjective assessment of Shipyard’s conduct, and cannot be proven as an objective fact,” Laughrey wrote. “Likewise, general insults … are merely subjective assessments.”

On Dec. 29, Laughrey gave Shipyard seven days to amend its allegations involving online reviews, but there are no court records of any updated filings.

Brendan Palfreyman, a Syracuse, New York, trademark lawyer in the Harris Beach law firm who is not involved in the lawsuit, says the lawsuit is very unusual. He can only think of one instance a brewery squabble went to trial, and that was a fight over root beer. Shipyard’s patent lawsuit against Logboat is scheduled to start at the end of May.

“It’s very likely this will be settled before it goes to trial,” Palfreyman said.

This isn’t the first run-in between breweries. Logboat previously operated an outdoor beer garden at its brewery named “The Shipyard,” but stopped when contacted by Shipyard.

James Patrick can be contacted at 791-6382 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @mesofunblog

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