The MPAA Forces Craft Brewer To Abandon Its 'Rated R' Beer Brand

from the this-beer-is-not-yet-rated dept

The MPAA. Usually that’s all I’d have to say and then we could all have good combo laugh/cry over exactly how cartoonishly dickish an organization could be. But now it’s entered the realm of alcohol, where trademark silliness is all too prevalent. But if any of those previous stories looked petty, the pure petty stones on these MPAA folks will astound you. Yes, it has come to this: a craft brewery has been forced to change the name of its celebrated “Rated R” beer brand. This, people, is as stupid as it gets.

A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand. The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.

Of course! Who could possibly deny how the confusion over whether I was drinking an R-rated movie or a beer might creep into my brain? Who also could possibly deny that the MPAA’s “Rated R” trademark is something other than purely descriptive? I mean, it’s not like the mark is, you know, describing the exact state of rating of the movie or anything, right? And, finally, really how different are the movie and beer-making industries? Aren’t they essentially the same thing? Because if they aren’t, then this really doesn’t make any sense.

The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though.

Imagine the look on the faces of the sweet folks making this wonderful alcohol when they were informed that the lawyers at the MPAA weren’t convinced that the MPAA and a brewery were in different industries. I imagine it took the grace of god himself to keep embolisms from popping inside of their brains as they tried to process a claim so stupid.

And, yet, because the brewery is small and the MPAA is big, the name of the beer will be changed. This is how stupidity plus money can equal the good guy getting screwed out of his brand. The beer will continue on, of course, though under a different name: “unrated.”

The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed. Jesus…

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Companies: mpaa

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Comments on “The MPAA Forces Craft Brewer To Abandon Its 'Rated R' Beer Brand”

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antidirt (profile) says:

Wow. No mention that this is a certification mark, not a trademark. No discussion of what the actual infringement test is, much less how to apply it here. No understanding of what a “purely descriptive” mark is. Must be more IP “analysis” by Timmy G on TD. “This, people, is as stupid as it gets.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, how exactly would a certification mark be applicable here as an argument for why the MPAA’s claim isn’t ridiculous?

When it’s used for movies, it’s indicating that a movie is rated at a particular level, which would seem to be what a certification mark is used for(‘Movie X meets the criteria to be rated R’). When a brewery uses it, they’re not certifying that the beer is anything, it’s just a term used as a brand for a particular line of beers.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that they are not trying to make people think that the movie ratings board has certified that their beer meets the criteria to be ‘Rated R’, and someone would have to either be a lawyer, or incredibly drunk for such a ‘potential confusion’ to even occur.

The ‘infringement test’ part is rather moot, given the difference between the two categories(though a lousy beer, much like a lousy movie, can have you feeling even worse after ‘consumption’ than before, and wishing you’d spent your money elsewhere).

If viewed as a certification mark, then given the vastly different categories, it really wouldn’t apply, given how insane it would be to test and ‘certify’ a beer brand the same as a movie. If viewed in the trademark angle, then given the purpose of those is to ‘prevent customer confusion’, again, you’d have to be a lawyer or very drunk to think that a brand of beer has anything to do with movie ratings, so the potential confusion there is minimal at best.

antidirt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you missed my point. I’m sure Timmy G is well-suited to produce “look how dumb!” posts for TD. It’s just that, ironically enough, he’s the one who looks dumb when he attempts to draw legal conclusions. It’s painfully obvious that he has very little grasp of trademark law. Considering how Mike has built a career in blasting other sites for writing dumb stuff, it’s deliciously funny that his own writers display such shameful shortcomings. Timmy G strikes me as the guy who berates another with a “your dumb” reply.

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s a trademark dispute, not a certification dispute.

The article fails to give much information, but this comes from TorrentFreak who in turn got it from apparent originators BizJournals, both of whom go into more detail.

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