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....

Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Harold Feld, 2 Dec 2013 @ 4:39pm

    I keep thinking about the Buffy episode "Bad Beer."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    P.F. Bruns, 2 Dec 2013 @ 5:29pm

    Possible new beer brand for Clown Shoes

    Hey, Clown Shoes: I have a new brand name for your next brew--and you may have it for the low, low price of FREE: Patent Troll Hunter.

    (File your trademark NOW.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2013 @ 5:43pm

    Suggestion for you beer snobs out there: if you're fortunate to ever come across Three Floyds Zombie Dust, brewed out of Munster, IN, buy it in bulk -- you will not be disappointed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Dec 2013 @ 7:06pm

    stoopid is as stoopid does

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 3 Dec 2013 @ 4:01am

    Buttwiper did this first...

    Didn't buttwiper (Budweiser) do this first with "Punkin" Ale? Yup... Amheiser-Busch (the number one producer of piss that tastes something like beer) tried to block Dogfish Brewing Company from selling Punkin Ale because the name.

    The majors are always doing this shit (and worse, I believe Coors tried to make it difficult legally for New Belgian to start selling their beers in Colorado,) and it looks like some of the minors who can't compete (because they make the same piss that buttwiper makes) seem to be looking to do the same.

    Sorry, touched a nerve. Beer is near and dear to my heart, after years of brewing my own and enjoying most of what I've been drinking from the minors.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      macdroid84 (profile), 3 Dec 2013 @ 5:46am

      Re: Buttwiper did this first...

      Agreed! As a homebrewer myself, beer is always in my heart. The court should have awarded Clown Shoes the patent to Vampire Pale Ale out of sheer stupidity in arguing that a Pale Ale is anywhere near a Stout of any make...

      I sincerely hope the brewmaster had no hand in making this argument...

      Next thing you know, ABinBev will be suing Goose Island for patent infringement....

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Dec 2013 @ 5:07am

    "... that tastes something like beer"

    You give them too much credit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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