Pusser's Rum Wins Ridiculous Trademark Battle, But Loses The War As Bartenders Protest And Boycott
from the think-of-the-bigger-picture dept
What followed could only be considered a very bad week for Pusser's. While the lawsuit was settled in their favor, this small brand found itself a pariah among many bartenders and fans of PKNY. Within hours of the news, several Facebook groups were launched, calling for boycotts of Pusser's rum and an end to trademarked cocktail recipes (these pages had hundreds of supporters within a few days); and bartenders around the country began conducting their own forms of civil disobedience, serving and in some cases advertising Painkillers that are notably not made with Pussers, and posting photos of the menus online as a challenge to Pusser's to sue every bar that ignored the trademarked recipe.Not only that, but some of those protesting noticed that Pusser's itself had urged people to replace a different rum in a different trademarked drink with its own rum -- something that Pusser's now claims is trademark infringement. That plea had come in a tweet which has since disappeared (covering their tracks, huh?). As things keep getting worse and worse, Pusser's boss decided to put up a blog post responding to the controversy, in which he plays the "we're a small business!" card, but fails to respond to the key points of criticism. He notes that it "is of no legal consequence" that Painkillers were originally made without Pusser's rum, but that ignores the larger point: which is that this demonstrates how ridiculous it is that Pusser's claims a trademark on the drink.
And, of course, he goes on to play the "but we have to defend our trademark, or what chance do we have" card, which is completely bogus:
Losing the Painkiller trademarks would take away all chances of success for these products. They would be unprotected in the marketplace. If they took off, under the name "Painkiller", any giant of a company like a Diageo or a Bacardi or some other could introduce a drink of the same name and we'd be out of the running instantly. We’d be dead. Thanks to the trademark law, the little guy does have a chance. So this is what we sought to protect.As far as I can tell, this is basically Pusser's admitting that its rum simply isn't very good. After all, if "Bacardi or some other could introduce a drink of the same name" and Pusser's would be "out of the running instantly," that suggests that he knows Pusser's rum just doesn't have anything going for it, other than a trademark. After all, if the rum really is distinct and what people want, then wouldn't it be able to compete on taste and reputation? Kind of surprising that the company's own boss would admit that it can't.