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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    Yes, but the lawsuit's enough to drive this business, which admits it doesn't have profits, on its way out the door.

    Just as these lawsuits are intended to do.

    Veoh, you may find yourself with company soon.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:18pm

    Drinking too much

    They are obviously Drunk to file this suit...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    Six does kind of look like nine. Maybe they should work together and make 69.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Hendrix Foresaw This

    Now if 6 turned out to be 9,
    I don't mind, I don't mind,
    Alright, if all the hippies cut off all their hair,
    I don't care, I don't care.
    Dig, 'cos I got my own world to live through
    And I ain't gonna copy you.

     

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    The Old Man in The Sea, May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:36pm

    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).

     

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    Zeissmann (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:42pm

    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.

     

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    santa clause, May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:00pm

    is this proof of avg americans have rank 31 in world math scores?

    is this proof of avg americans have rank 31 in world math scores?

     

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    TheLastCzarnian (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:02pm

    Pentium

    Wasn't the whole reason that Intel created the Pentium name is that numbers can't be trademarked?
    I hate it when the rules change without notice. Like software patents, although that change helped me realize that patents are worthless to society anyway.

     

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      Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:07pm

      Re: Pentium

      Pretty sure the trademark is on "#9", not just "9", which should make it acceptable.

       

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      Miff (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 6:08pm

      Re: Pentium

      Remember that the 80486 was back in the Golden Age of computing when Compaq could legally reverse-engineer an IBM PC and not get sued out of existence.

       

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        TheLastCzarnian (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 8:23pm

        Re: Re: Pentium

        No, you're thinking of the 8088/80286 XT/AT line. IBM only got as far as the 286 on ISA architecture. They had their fully-ip'd "PS/2" line for the 386, which no one bought because no one wanted to buy MicroChannel expansion cards at 4 times the price of ISA cards.
        IBM did manufacture 486 chips, however.

         

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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:06pm

    " 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?"

    Challenge Accepted!

    My guess is that I will become bloated and sick before I can't tell the difference though. Beer is what I drink when it's time to start sobering up... ;)

     

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    peersu, May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    pretty sure...

    pretty sure magic hat is ripping off a song love potion #9, lets sue them too

     

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    ahow628 (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:26pm

    New name...

    Saw someone on Twitter say they should change their name to Magic Asshat...

     

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    Darryl, May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:28pm

    Are you sure the second can has a 6 on it? The can just might be upside down.

     

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    Anonymous, May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    By the way, what is it with this sudden popularity of the # sign anyway?

     

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    QuietgyInTheCorner (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 3:55pm

    After carefully comparing the two logos, I can definately see how the similarity could cause "brand confusion". (Can I take the blindfold off now?)

     

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    Michael, May 23rd, 2013 @ 4:05pm

    Research

    Ok/ aftr sveril hourz uf carfuuul ressrch i musst adnit thhat thees canz luuk a lots aslike.

    speclly wen the 6 it bning chugedd

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    Three!

    "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?"

    Three! The difference between a 6 and 9 is three. What does that have to do with trademarks?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 4:51pm

    What are you talking about? When I'm chugging the beers and slam them upside down that 6 magically turns into a 9. I don't know how this magic works but it is amazing!

     

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    Watchit (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 8:30pm

    *implied facepalm*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:25pm

    I just don't see it, guess I'll take another look after I have a few more.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 9:45pm

    In related news, mathematics textbooks were seized all over the United States due to their inclusion of both numbers 6 and 9. They were charged for being an accessory to confusing the moron in a hurry and aiding and abetting infringement.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2013 @ 11:28pm

    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.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2013 @ 5:00am

    Maybe if they put "this side up" at the can? It seems Magic Hat doesn't know how to hold it. Oh, and they're probably colorblind too. And probably visually impaired in some other way as well. Heck, did they even look?

     

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    dennis deems (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    I'm confused

    Which is the six, and which is the nine?

     

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    Joe, May 24th, 2013 @ 6:33am

    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.

     

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    techinabox (profile), May 24th, 2013 @ 8:27am

    Crap

    I actually like Magic Hat. Scratch that. Love Magic Hat. They make two of my favorite beers. A black lager called Howl and a red beet beer called Wacko. Now out of principle I can't drink any of those delicious things until they stop being dicks in this asinine lawsuit.

     

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    Oradi, May 24th, 2013 @ 10:32am

     

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      Anonymous Coward, May 26th, 2013 @ 5:54am

      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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    DP, May 24th, 2013 @ 11:14am

    Bullies

    Obviously blatant bullying, using any means possible to try and drive the start-out out of business. If you can't stand the heat.........

     

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    toyotabedzrock (profile), May 26th, 2013 @ 10:08pm

    Color blind author

    Its green not tan and brown!

    Its a fairly bright green.

     

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    Rudy King, May 31st, 2013 @ 5:38am

    Funny!

    I'm legally blind (20/200 with glasses), and can plainly tell the difference.

     

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    Larry, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 7:43pm

    Magic Hat's lawsuit

    Are you kidding me ? That's what happens when a small good
    brewery sells out to a much bigger company who then gets paranoid and thinks everyone is after them and get the
    lawyers involved. Is Magic Hat still just brewed in Vt still
    with the new #9 cans ?

     

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