A small brewery in upstate New York has incurred the wrath of the Star Wars franchise by naming one of its signature lagers, "Strikes Bock." Lucasfilm has filed a "notice of opposition" against Empire Brewery, when it recently tried to trademark the beer.

[Image: Photo by Frederik Herregods at frederikherregods.be]

"We named it 'Strikes Bock' because we thought it was a clever pun," Monica Palmer, Empire's director of marketing told CNN. "We weren't trying to infringe on anything. We were just trying to make a nice beer with a funny name."

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Not so, says Lucasfilm, which notes in its filing:

Applicant's EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK mark is virtually identical in sound, appearance, and connotation to Lucasfilm's THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark, differing by only one letter in the respective last words "BOCK" and "BACK," and the initial word "THE."

The legal document also states that public confusion could arise from the fact that Lucasfilm already has a history of licensing an alcoholic beverage:

For over twenty years, Lucasfilm and/or its licensees have used the SKYWALKER mark in connection with wines produced from SKYWALKER VINEYARDS. As early as 1991, Lucasfilm and/or its licensees first planted vines on SKYWALKER RANCH near the technical buildings that hold the post-production sound company known as SKYWALKER SOUND. SKYWALKER VINEYARDS has produced award-winning wines prominently bearing the SKYWALKER mark, as shown in the images below. Thus, for decades, consumers have been exposed to and understand that Lucasfilm's STAR WARS Film Franchise marks are used in connection with such products.

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Despite the legal dispute, the Force remains strong with the employees at Empire Brewery Company.

"Our GM is a huge Star Wars fan," Palmer said. "He might be a Stormtrooper for Halloween this year."

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