City, Old Town Brewing reach agreement in trademark battle over White Stag sign

The city of Portland owns the physical sign and the trademarks for the white stag in certain categories. (KATU Photo)

After months of back-and-forth in the disagreement over who has the rights to the iconic imagery of the historic White Stag “Portland Oregon” sign, the city has reached an agreement with Old Town Brewing.

The brewing company has had a trademark for the white stag on the sign in the category of beer, wine, and alcohol since 2012.

The City of Portland also owns a trademark for the white stag in certain categories, and uses it for certain licensing deals.

Adam Milne, owner of Old Town Pizza & Brewing, said the city was blocked from getting certain trademark protections in other categories because of his trademark.

KATU News detailed the ensuing disagreements between the City and Old Town in a story from last November.

On Monday, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said they have reached an agreement with Milne on the sign. The agreement is for five years, at which point there will be the option of renewing.

“It was important to me to reach an agreement so that we could each return our focus to our core missions with a strengthened partnership,” Wheeler said in a statement.

The agreement covers these points:

  • The City will amend its pending trademark applications to exclude beer, wine, and liquor; Old Town Brewing will not object to the City’s amended applications or the City’s licensing of the Portland Oregon Sign for any purpose outside of the field of alcoholic beverages.
  • The City and Old Town Brewing will file the agreement with USPTO so that both parties can advance their pending and future trademark applications.
  • The City may grant licenses for the Portland Oregon sign for limited local alcoholic beverage-related uses, such as festivals/events and to local alcoholic beverage trade organizations for advertising purposes only, and not for inclusion on any product labels or packaging.
  • The City and Old Town Brewing will cooperate in enforcement of their respective trademarks.
  • Because of the constraints of the City of Portland’s Charter, the City cannot enter into a permanent agreement with Old Town Brewing. The parties are entering into the longest-term agreement possible – a 5-year agreement with the ability to renew for an additional 5 years.

Mayor Wheeler said he hopes any future mayor would choose to renew the agreement.

Milne and Wheeler also said they’ve agreed to have a beer (or two) to talk about other ways the City can support the local craft brewers.

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