EAA Sues to Block ‘Beer Venture’


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.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Wow.

    This is a great example of the corporate demise of Oshkosh!

    I’ve been 9 glorious years in a row, last year was the worst year by far – the fact that the EAA is actually so petty that they would do this shows that they are certainly now just a large corporate organization out to get our money.

    I vote we make a crowdfunding campaign to help the brothers fight the EAA in court!

  2. It’s OSHKOSH, not BeerVenture.
    Since serious distilled alcohol is available EVERYWHERE in Wisconsin, who the heck cares about beer?

  3. Lemme see if I understand this correctly … “Beer Venture” is a ‘trademark’ owned by EAA … REALLY !! Me thinks it has more to do with revenue …. as Doug says … than anything else. 42 years ago, you couldn’t find a beer on the show grounds … now even EAA is in the business.

    I’m intimately familiar with the back story here. The Beer Tent in question used to be closer in to the show center but EAA — in concert with the civil entities — took the land owned by these restaurant people using eminent domain. They also took some houses on Knapp St that were privately owned. The Sosnoskis moved up the street and did the same thing … only closer to the EAA Museum. In effect, they stuck their thumbs in the eye of EAA and won an $800K judgment in the process. So now EAA is using MY dues money to sue these people. For gods sake … they invented beer in Wisconsin. The SuperBowl commercial showing a drone delivering beer to an ice shanty a few years ago was done in nearby Stevens Point ! What the heck is EAA sticking their nose into this situation for?? This is not good! Leave these people alone, Jack!

    Jack Pelton better put a stop to this PRONTO !!

    I’ll have ya’ll know that I’ve paid many a dollar to consume beer bongs in the Sosnoski beer tent served up by nice looking bikini clad local ladies who earn extra money during EAA. No harm … no foul. Everybody walks home a happy camper awaiting the early wakeup call of the T-6’s. Maybe they didn’t get the memo … Airventure is a gigantic party for pilots.

    I’ve got the first five sawbucks for the crowdfunding fight against EAA to support the Sosnoskis !

    When you take the Paul Poberezny home tour, they make a point of showing that everywhere Paul had a desk, he had a bar on his Estate … nuff said.

  4. Year by year the EAA Air venture has become just another commercial money generator. Back in the 80’s it really was a family gettogether with no booze but it has become something that is no longer recognizable.
    I would not even spend a dime to be there now.

  5. Trademark dilution? REALLY?

    Airventure – Airplanes
    Beer Venture – Beer

    I think I can tell the difference between an airplane and a beer. If you read the suit – it asks for a Jury Trial. I suspect the jury can tell the difference too.

  6. Beer? In Wisconsin? As a venture for profit? Really?
    In Oshkosh? Near EAA members? At lower prices? Served by ladies in bikini’s?
    Oh! The horrors of it all!! Jack, Save Humanity from this gate way to sausages and cheese.
    Before you know it Jerry will be there with an accordion playing Polkas and Music Venture.
    Stop it now and help kill off that awful AirVenture, Wisconsin, and beer drinking before it’s too late.
    Jack, it’s time to be historically the biggest jackass in EAA history. Once you buzzkill the EAA, we can all go to OSH to smell the Wisconsin Dairy Air!

  7. This was likely initiated by lawyers. A similar situation is why the event itself is now called “Airventure” instead of “Oshkosh” even though we all call it “Oshkosh”. As someone who has been infringed upon re: trademarks and copyrights, I agree with EAA’s position on this. It’s not like EAA will come down on them like EAA was Disney and they had marketed unlicensed merchandise. The solution may be as simple as stating “Not Affiliated with EAA” or some such, in lettering as big as that of their “event” name.

    • What Chris K. said. Whatever the initial motivations of either party may be, the fact is EAA can’t ignore them. Otherwise future parties who are really infringing will argue that since the EAA did nothing about these guys, they’ve abandoned the trademark and anyone can use it.

  8. It’s no darn wonder that a new Cessna Skyhawk costs $400K !! Thanks to all the frivolous lawsuits brought on my money grubbing lawyers willing to sue anyone for anything. Given THIS “revolting development” (sorry … don’t sue me … I asked Ralph Cramdon if it was OK to say that), I won’t spend a penny on beer within the EAA grounds and WILL spend money in the Beer Tent. EAA has gone TOO far THIS time !!

  9. Stop the presses!
    From the Wojenka family to the Sosnoski Bros.
    Use a any of the following venture synonyms:

    Beerleap in the dark,
    Beercrack, and finally,

  10. Agree with Kirk. Common sense backs the Sosnoksis, but as a legal matter the conventional wisdom is that trademarks must be zealously protected. They’ll probably be way ahead if they stick to beer and babes and come up with a clever new name.

  11. It’s a well established venue at this point. They could rename it to anything and they will still pack people in there as they always have. Frivolous and far stretch to consider it trademark infringement IMO. I hope the EAA loses.