Conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafly is currently in a trademark dispute with her nephew, founder of Schlafly Beer in St. Louis, Mo. The relatives are reportedly in disagreement over whether the Schlafly name may be used commercially or predominately as a surname.
Phyllis, 89, has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny the request of her nephew, Tom Schlafly, to trademark his last name so he may use it exclusively to sell his craft beer, brewed in St. Louis by St. Louis Brewery Inc. Tom reportedly co-founded Schlafly Beer nearly two decades ago and as his craft beer brand continues to grow, he hopes to trademark the company's name for future business security.
However, Phyllis, who champions herself as a "national leader of the conservative movement" since 1964, does not want people to associate the Schlafly name with alcohol. Her son, attorney Andrew Schlafly, told The Associated Press that alcohol and the conservative movement do not bode well together.
"There are tens of millions of Americans who oppose alcohol," Andrew, who is legally representing his mother in the trademark dispute, told AP. "Certainly alcohol has a connotation that is the opposite of conservative values."
Andrew, along with his brother Bruce, a St. Louis-based surgeon, have filed their own papers opposing the trademark of their name.
According to the St. Louis Business Journal, Phyllis asserts in her dispute paper that her last name "has the connotation of conservative values, which to millions of Americans (such as Baptists and Mormons) means abstinence from alcohol." She adds that the "average consumer" associates the Schlafly name with her, not the beer company, "and thus the registration of this name as a trademark by Applicant should be denied."
Settlement talks in the 18-month trademark dispute have reached no conclusion. Tom, the nephew of Phyllis' late husband, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that his company is seeking the trademark for business-related reasons. "We sell the equivalent of 20 million bottles of beer a year, and we want to keep someone else from selling beer and calling it Schlafly," Tom said.
Tom added that he doesn't want his plan to backfire by alienating his aunt's supporters from drinking his product. "She has fans and critics. I want to sell to both of them. The last thing I want to do is antagonize her followers because I hope they drink Schlafly beer, too."
Tom clarified that he is still amicable with his aunt and relatives and sees them once or twice a year.
Phyllis made a name for herself in the conservative world for her campaign opposing the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights to women in 1972. The 89-year-old activist founded the Eagle Forum, which initially worked to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment and now works to oppose same-sex marriage and support the pro-life movement, among other causes.
Phyllis has written 20 books and resides in St. Louis.