Craft Brewery Mired in Family Drama Over Name

Schlafly wants to trademark its name 20 years later; Phyllis Schlafly's son no fan

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 14, 2014 11:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Schlafly is a familiar name for craft-beer lovers: The St. Louis, Missouri-based brewery has been brewing under that label for 20 years. But the private equity firm that bought a majority of the brewery in 2011 wants to see "Schlafly" trademarked, and that's opened up a can of worms of the familial variety. And it's a prominent family at the heart of the mess: That of 89-year-old conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, who the AP describes as famed for her campaign to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, and whose nephew, Tom Schlafly, began brewing under the family name, without conflict, many years ago.

Phyllis Schlafly petitioned the US Patent and Trademark Office to reject the request some 18 months ago, as did her son Andrew Schlafly. He tells the Star-Ledger the name wasn't so much an issue "when the business was in the family" (a reference to the private equity firm, Sage Capital; Tom Schlafly has stayed on as chairman of the board for the brewery) but nonetheless points out that booze is associated with values his mother has fought against, and says supporters assume she's tied to the beer. Settlement talks continue, notes the AP, with the trademark office being asked to determine whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection. Two interesting factoids: Schlafly was the 44th largest craft brewery in the country last year, and Phyllis is a Schlafly by marriage, not birth.

The logo seen on many bottles off beer produced by the brewery co-founded by Tom Schlafly is seen inside Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo.
The logo seen on many bottles off beer produced by the brewery co-founded by Tom Schlafly is seen inside Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Tom Schlafly, co-founder of the brewery which produces the Schlafly brand of beers, poses for a photo at Schlafly Bottleworks Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo.
Tom Schlafly, co-founder of the brewery which produces the Schlafly brand of beers, poses for a photo at Schlafly Bottleworks Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo.   (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Phyllis Schlafly is interviewed by a television reporter while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.
Phyllis Schlafly is interviewed by a television reporter while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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