Originally Posted by BoxMan
Now let's also say that those particular names are already in use - even though my brews are different styles... would I still be able to use my names for my original brew?
Are there any real rules, regulations, or laws against using the same name as another brew? Is it likely that I would run in to any problems with the breweries who already use these names?
Generally using names that are already in use is bad karma, on top of potentially exposing you to trademark issues.
There was a big issue between New Holland and Alpine a few years back over the use of "Ichabod" in the name of a pumpkin beer (obviously a Ichabod Crane / Sleepy Hollow reference). There was no [discernable] intent to copy on either side, and the beers were not even distributed in the same states. Yet New Holland was able to get Alpine to stop using the name.
#2 -- Oskar Blues used to have a beer called "Gordon" after Gordon Knight, who had passed away. They were approached by brewery Gordon Biersch who claimed that naming a beer "Gordon" infringed on the trademark for the name of their brewery. Oskar Blues ended up renaming the beer G'Knight to avoid the issue.
I'd avoid naming a beer anything identical to an existing beer. When it comes to similar names, it's a judgement call. But be aware that you might be exposed.