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What's in a name? Phyllis Schlafly family takes dispute over beer trademark to federal agency

  • Family Beer Battle.JPEG

    Tom Schlafly, co-founder of the brewery which produces the Schlafly brand of beers, poses for a photo at Schlafly Bottleworks Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo. Schlafly has been in a trademark dispute with his aunt, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, over whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (The Associated Press)

  • 0c4b480a24934c0a4e0f6a7067005211.jpg

    Tom Schlafly, co-founder of the brewery which produces the Schlafly brand of beers, poses for a photo at Schlafly Bottleworks on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Maplewood, Mo. Schlafly has been in a trademark dispute with his aunt, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, over whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (The Associated Press)

To many older Americans, the Schlafly name is most closely associated with Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative commentator known for her campaign to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.

A younger generation knows Schlafly as the brand of an up-and-coming St. Louis brewery co-founded by Schlafly's nephew.

Now the federal agency that oversees trademarks is being asked to wade into a dispute within the prominent family and decide whether Schlafly is primarily a last name or a commercial brand that deserves legal protection.

The brewery started by Tom Schlafly wants the exclusive right to use the Schlafly name to sell craft beer. But Phyllis Schlafly has asked the Patent and Trademark Office to deny the request, lest any implied association with beer sully her 60-year political career.

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