Magic Hat Brewery Sues West Sixth Brewing, Claiming 6 Looks Too Much Like 9

from the mmmmm-beer dept

You may recall that years ago Anheuser-Busch applied for a trademark on the number 312, having bought out Goose Island Brewery, who had a beer by that name. The catch is that 312 is the area code for most of Chicago, where Goose Island was based, and that seems like a sort of funny thing to trademark. But, strange as that might seem, at least AB didn’t then go around suing the pants off of anyone who used any further permutation of that number.

In what’s a first for me, Brig C. Mccoy shows me an instance where one brewery with a trademark on a single digit has sued another brewery over a completely different digit.

A lawsuit filed May 16 in U.S. District Court charged that West Sixth began selling beer, ale and brewpub services in 2012 using color, trademarks and designs “that closely resemble and are confusingly similar” to the designs used by Magic Hat for several years.

And if you look at the side-by-side comparison picture, you can see exactly what they mean. After all, Magic Hat #9’s logo is maroon, yellow and orange, with a trippy stylized number 9 and a star. The offending logo from West Sixth’s amber ale is brown, tan and silver, with a non-stylized number 6 merged with a circle and a star. In other words, they’re almost nothing freaking alike in any way.

The only basis for the suit appears to be that 6s and 9s are kinda similar (as in opposite of one another) and there is some incorporation of a circle and a star somewhere. And that, friends, is a shitty basis for a trademark suit. Seriously, look at the picture and tell me if you could possibly confuse the two. If you say yes, there’s a good chance you recently had a lobotomy.

West Sixth appears to agree.

“They’re claiming that we intentionally copied their logo, and that has caused them “irreparable harm,” enough that they’re asking for not only damages but also all our profits up until this point (little do they know that well, as a startup company, there wasn’t any, oops!)”

West Sixth logos were created by a professional design firm in Lexington called Cricket Press that has “a long history of fantastic and creative logo designs. … Our logo contains neither a ‘#’ nor a ‘9.’”

The lack of a # is actually kind of key. As West Sixth points out on its own website, the trademark in question includes the “#” sign, so the fact that their beer doesn’t have it is pretty damning by itself. But, even beyond that, the focus on different numbers is just ridiculous.

Look, within the confines of a beer can or bottle, there’s only so much you can do with a logo. That said, here’s a fun experiment you can do at home (assuming you’re of legal drinking age). Find someone who has never tried either of the Magic Hat or West Sixth beers in question. Sit that person down at a table with a case of both beers in front of them. Ask them if they are under any illusions that the two brews are distinctly different because of the logo. When they say, “Of course not, you idiot, and why did you kidnap me from the Stop & Go?!?”, ask them to slam one of each beers. Rinse, repeat. Exactly how many double-slammed-beers do you think this person would have to go through before they can’t tell the difference between a 6 and a 9?

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Companies: magic hat brewery, west sixth brewery

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Comments on “Magic Hat Brewery Sues West Sixth Brewing, Claiming 6 Looks Too Much Like 9”

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50 Comments
The Old Man in The Sea says:

Telling the difference after two slabs

When I was at uni (30+ years ago), we had people who could easily handle two slabs and still tell the difference. They spent lots of time practicing while playing cards at night. Mind you, we had a couple who wouldn’t be able to tell the difference after one stubby.

But when it boils down to it, the only beer worth drinking is the one made with … (not hops).

Zeissmann (profile) says:

This is yet another reason why our western writing system is in serious need of a reform, as many characters are confusingly similar. Another prominent example are the letters “I” and “l” which virtually any OCR system confuses and which is a huge pain in the ass when ripping English subtitles. This inconvenience is a source of waste of endless man-hours in the pirate industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

I would understand more if they said that a six turns into a nine when you turn the can upside down, I.E. drinking. They’re not doing that here however.

using color, trademarks and designs “that closely resemble and are confusingly similar” to the designs used by Magic Hat for several years.

WTF they don’t look alike at all.

Joe says:

Sheep... All of you. Sheep I tell you!

Someone had said that they should work together. Odds are… THEY ARE! Noone has ever heard of EITHER of these breweries. And now… Tons more people have because of this. Both will see an increase in profits because of the press.

And if the one Brewery IS serious… This kind of crap shouldn’t be “reported” unless some idiot judge makes the wrong call. They don’t deserve the profit boost that this press will give them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That’s still nowhere near the same. There’s the pound sign, the different colors, and the fact that 6 is not 9. Plus, you know, the one from West Sixth Brewing says “West Sixth Brewing” on it in fairly large print, just in case a person isn’t clear on who is making it.

I’ve seen stuff in the grocery store that actually DOES look like it could confuse someone. A store-brand soup can that says “Chunky” on it using the same colors and a similar font and in the same location as Chunky’s brand soup, for example. Sorry, but you wouldn’t choose that style unless you were trying to mimic the brand name.

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