The Hand Grenade: Powerful Drink, Powerful Mark

Author:Ms Melissa Hunter Smith
Profession:Stites & Harbison PLLC

We are fully in the throes of Carnival, a season of parades and other celebrations that begins on January 6 and culminates with Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday, will take place this year on February 28, 2017. An estimated 1.4 million people will flock to New Orleans to take part in Mardi Gras festivities. And many of those participants will partake in a beverage that has become iconic on Bourbon Street: a Hand Grenade®.

The Hand Grenade is an electric green cocktail that is typically served, you guessed it, in a container that resembles a grenade. Thanks to the wonders of federal trademark laws, patrons may only purchase an authentic Hand Grenade® drink at Tropical Isle and Funky Pirate locations on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. (Seriously, a big "thank you" to the U.S. Trademark Office for allowing the trademark owner to place such jurisdictional limits on the sale of this potent drink!) It is touted as New Orleans' Most Powerful Drink, a moniker that is also subject to a federally registered trademark. Its owners are so zealous in their protection of the brand that their website offers a $250 cash reward to anyone who furnishes information that leads to the identification and termination of any illegal use of the trademarks.

This powerful mark exists, in part, due to its owners' previous branding failures. The Hand Grenade was created in the mid-1980s by Pam Fortner and Earl Bernhardt, who owned a bar in the Quarter and were attempting to invent a drink to compete with the well-known Hurricane. They had originally developed a drink they referred to as the "Tropical Itch," which was served with a cheesy drinking straw that doubles as a back scratcher. And, had they immediately and vigorously protected that trademark, the Hand Grenade as we know it may never have been created. But it was not long before "Tropical...

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