Beverage Alcohol

The beverage alcohol industry is undergoing transformation as products become available through an increasingly diverse range of retailers, and shifting consumption preferences create growth opportunities—particularly for the wine, craft beer, cider and distilled spirits segments.

Key Contacts

Christopher R. Hermann Partner Portland, OR
Susan M. Johnson Partner Seattle, WA
Overview

Our attorneys have decades of experience advising producers, distributors and retailers participating in the domestic and global wine, beer and spirits marketplace. As business is conducted across this highly regulated industry, we help you navigate laws that govern alcohol manufacture, licensing, taxation, labeling, advertising and marketing.  We provide counsel to protect your brand, maintain environmental compliance and provide a vigorous defense in the face of disputes.

Our clients are domestic and international producers, importers, distributors, specialty retail and big box stores, restaurant and hotel chains, and sports and entertainment concession companies. Each has distinct priorities that we help advance through our understanding of industry issues and our ability to work effectively with regulators and national leadership as experienced beverage alcohol counsel. 

Our Services

  • Compliance with TTB and state alcohol control regulations, and FTC
  • Trademark and brand protection
  • Labeling and advertising compliance and clearance including Lanham Act counsel
  • Environmental compliance and defense, and waste and wastewater management and water rights
  • Attainment and defense of federal and state liquor licenses
  • Contractual agreements with suppliers, bottlers and distributors including custom crush
  • Tax strategy and defense related to corporate transactions and import, export and multi-state operations
  • M&A transaction negotiation, structuring and documentation
  • Corporate formation, structure and financing
  • Private equity and foreign investment in alcohol production and distribution
  • Land use, siting and permitting including conditional use permits 

Regulatory Compliance

We’ll guide you through the web of federal and state regulations imposed by the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax  Trade Bureau, the FTC, state alcohol beverage control agencies and commissions, and federal, state and local environmental agencies. We’re experienced with the range of regulations pertaining to licensing, taxation on alcohol products, distribution controls, advertising practices, and labeling and food safety. At the growing and manufacturing end of the spectrum we are national leaders providing environmental counsel for issues such as permitting, land use, water use and water rights, waste handling, and agricultural land permitting. 

Distribution

Beer, wine and spirits producers, wholesalers and retailers deal with a complex, multi-tier system for product distribution. We negotiate the nuances of this framework and help establish and manage wholesale distribution and direct-to-consumer networks, whether through brick and mortar locations or online e-commerce. We have experience with alcohol distributor and broker terminations in states with and without beverage franchise laws, as well as litigating issues of cause, rights to new products, brand extensions and obligations to successor brand owners. We also advise on tied house rules that can be particularly challenging for private equity and foreign investors in alcohol production whose portfolios might include alcohol retailers.

IP

Our team includes IP attorneys with significant experience protecting leading beer, wine and distilled products brands. Our services cover the full range of trademark, patent, trade secrets, and copyright registration and protection, whether we’re responding to challenges to the validity of your IP or pursuing infringers and policing competitors.

Corporate and Transactions

Our corporate attorneys provide transactional and contractual support to alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers of all sizes. Our services span start-up corporate formation, governance,  funding through global company M&A strategy, real estate development, debt and equity financing, and creation of multi-state or cross-border contracts and agreements. 

Litigation

Our litigation team is well versed in disputes that arise in the alcohol industry. We have represented competing landowners in vineyard boundary disputes, environmental enforcement actions by regulatory agencies, insurance coverage actions, private citizen suits, product liability defense and other similar matters. Our attorneys regularly handle cases involving commercial contracts, sale or development of IP, construction, real estate, and partnership disputes.

Matters
  • Provide strategic analysis to international online retailer for new and emerging alcohol retail and distribution models.
  • Manage liquor license acquisition for over 400 locations of national U.S. coffee chain and provide alcohol advertising and promotion clearance advice on a national scale.
  • Provide liquor license and regulatory guidance support for the shopping platform of a large U.S. online retailer.
  • Advise one of the largest brewing companies in the U.S. with licensing and compliance issues across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Assist award-winning distillery with licensing, compliance, IP, distribution and corporate matters.
  • Provide compliance and licensing counsel to a leader in the golf industry with over 85 U.S. courses and resorts.
Team
Insights & Presentations
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