Claiming trademark infringement, the Experimental Aircraft Association has filed suit in federal court to prevent the Sosnoski brothers from continuing to use the name “Beer Venture” for their “temporary tavern” on private property just outside the AirVenture gates.
The suit alleges trademark infringement and dilution as well as unfair competition. While EAA reportedly has had “amicable” talks with the Sosnoski brothers, spokesman Dick Knapinski told the Oshkosh Northwestern that the suit is “a legal step to make sure (the discussion) stays on track, so it doesn’t drop through the cracks. We fully expect to have a settlement.”
According to the suit, “The Sosnoskis have been using various trademarks owned and controlled by EAA to promote and conduct an event under the SOS Bros name called ‘Beer Venture’ located adjacent to and visible from the AirVenture event grounds. Defendants’ use of EAA’s trademarks in an unauthorized manner falsely suggests and is likely to create the mistaken impression that Defendants and their products, services, and commercial activities are sponsored by, approved by, affiliated with, connected with, or originate from EAA. Defendants’ unauthorized use of EAA’s trademarks constitutes willful trademark infringement, counterfeiting, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and dilution under federal and state law.”
Likely to be at the root of EAA’s concern with “Beer Venture,” this can be found in the suit: “The ‘Beer Venture’ event heavily promotes consumption of alcoholic beverages and utilizes female servers wearing bikini swimsuits. Both activities conflict with the family friendly image and nature of EAA and its AirVenture event.”
According to the Northwestern report, the Sosnoski brothers had been given a cease-and-desist letter prior to the 2019 AirVenture but they continued their enterprise last summer nevertheless. The suit asks, among other things, for the brothers to discontinue ”using the EAA Marks and any other trademark owned by EAA, any variations thereof including but not limited to ‘Beer Venture’ or other colorable imitations thereof that are likely to cause confusion with the EAA Marks or any other trademark owned by EAA.” It does not ask them to stop selling beer.
There is, apparently, no love lost between the Sosnoski brothers and the EAA. In 1996, 1.2 acres of land owned by the brothers was taken by eminent domain as part of what was deemed an airport improvement project. The brothers sued after Winnebago County turned the land over to EAA, and they eventually settled for $800,000, according to the Northwestern.