Trademarks, Beer, Vampires, Zombies… And Lawyers
from the clown-shoes dept
Can’t we all just drink along? Apparently not, as I seem to keep finding more and more nonsensical intellectual property cases related to sweet, beautiful alcohol. Who would have thought that beer could so often lead to confrontation? You may recall times when the IP and alcohol realms have clashed in the past, often over the designs of labels, sometimes over the names of real life people, and sometimes over the trademark of an (sigh) area code.
And now we can add mythical monster disputes to the ledger, as reader phlynhi writes us about a small brewer of beer, Clown Shoes, and how they lost the name of their signature beer, Vampire Slayer. The story goes like this. Clown Shoes made a beer and called it Vampire Slayer. A company called TI Beverage Group released a beer called Vampire Pale Ale after Vampire Slayer came out, but had applied for a trademark before Clown Shoes did. Rather than sending any cease and desist notices, they filed a trademark claim out of the gate, insisting that the court rule unfair competition and that any profits from Vampire Slayer be turned over to TI Beverage Group. Lovely.
Per Clown Shoes’ website, they decided that the brand confusion at the heart of the case was a claim they could beat.
At the heart of the suit, we learned after seeking counsel, is whether or not a likelihood of brand confusion exists. Our position was that there couldn’t be much confusion between the two brands. The beers come from different countries, with ours being made in the USA and theirs in Belgium. This means they will end up in different sections of any beer store or on any beer list. Vampire Pale Ale embraces vampires in name and imagery, whereas Vampire Slayer does the opposite. Clown Shoes is the primary name of our beer, whereas Vampire Slayer is the secondary. The beer styles, American Imperial Stout as opposed to Belgian Pale Ale, are about as different as possible. Clown Shoes Beers’ branding is very distinct from Vampire Pale Ale. Etc.
Seems to make sense to me and Clown Shoes was ready to go fight their case in court. Then their attorney informed them that litigating would likely run anywhere between $300k and $400k. Yay, legal system! So they settled, resolving the case for an undisclosed amount of money and a resulting licensing agreement that would allow Clown Shoes to keep using the Vampire Slayer brand name if they choose to. They decidedly choose not to.
Immediately after we receive national label registration, the name Vampire Slayer will become Undead Party Crasher. The recipe remains the same, with smoked malt and holy water included. The new label expresses our feelings about the legal process and monsters.
Just remember, double tap to the head or sever the head from the neck. It’s the only way to stop them. Zombies I mean….