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...

Filed Under: beer, movies, r-rated, trademark, unrated
Companies: mpaa


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
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    antidirt (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 8:37pm

    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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:20pm

      Re:

      geez trolling has gone downhill. your predecessors from years past were much better.

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

    • icon
      Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:41pm

      Re:

      You must be some kind of bot to leap onto a story as fast you do and post some annoying blurb of text as
      I look through the comments.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:53pm

      Response to: antidirt on Jan 29th, 2015 @ 8:37pm

      If a beer can infringe a movie related certification then the IP system is broken

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

      • identicon
        David, 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:31am

        Re: Response to: antidirt on Jan 29th, 2015 @ 8:37pm

        Well, if a projectionist accidentally pours his beer all over a film roll, then shouts to his colleagues "help me save the R-rated!" they will not know what to do and precious seconds might be lost.

        The damage can be even more pronounced with digital projectors.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:00pm

      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.

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

      • icon
        antidirt (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 9:29am

        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.

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

    • icon
      DocGerbil100 (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 11:02pm

      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.

      http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2015/01/27/612brew-ratedr-ipa-unrated-name-change- mpaa-fight.html

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2015 @ 11:29pm

      Re:

      Finally decided to log back in after shitting in the comments with your chicken noises, fuckface?

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:29am

      Re:

      Agreed, they should change the name to MAFIAA R.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 6:12am

      Re:

      Because none of that is relevant unless you live and breathe a permission society. After all, where the hell does anybody get off naming their product anything without getting the proper permission first? Arrogant Bastards(tm).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:17pm

    sigh

    i swear the MPAA is the isis of content...

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

  • identicon
    Ed, 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:33pm

    Uhh, is this beer or a movie, I'm just a stupid consumer.

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

  • icon
    FarSide (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:12pm

    Next up: MADD is upset about how the name implies it's a beer for those 17 and up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonmalous, 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:15pm

    Hmmm... high incidence of gratuitous violence, sex, nudity, and adult language.

    I'd say all beer should definitely be rated R by the MPAA standards for the mark. Now I see why they say its confusing.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:20pm

    Ironic

    When I Google MPAA, I get Motorparts of America, Inc. Who should be suing whom?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:24pm

    The MPAA is just upset that the beer forbids them from drinking it, because their mental age is definitely below 17.

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

  • icon
    sinsi (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:33pm

    Rated R. For a movie it means 18+. for a beer it means 18+ (at least here in Australia). So, a purely descriptive term.

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

  • icon
    Kal Zekdor (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 10:57pm

    Really?

    Really MPAA? Really...? I mean, they've done some stupid shit... but... really? Just... facepalm...

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

  • icon
    eaving (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 1:10am

    Have they considered rebranding to '@$!#@* MPAA Lawyers'?

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

  • icon
    saulgoode (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:08am

    But...

    The MPAA and breweries are in the same business, that of killing brain cells of their customers.

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

  • icon
    JR Price (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:51am

    I'm surprised that the WWE and Adam Copeland ("Edge") weren't hit with the same kind of stupidity when he used the "Rated R Superstar" moniker...

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

  • icon
    martixy (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 4:39am

    How is this not a clear-cut case legally?
    Is this not exactly what the "different industries" clause covers?

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

    • identicon
      PRMan, 30 Jan 2015 @ 5:13am

      Re:

      Yeah, they should have at least filed for a summary judgment first. I would assume they would have gotten it from the court.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 5:05am

    They should change it to "M for Mature" or "AO - Adults Only"

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

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 5:06am

    Pirate Beer

    I think they should rename it as "Pirate Beer - The Only Arrr-Rated Brew"

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

  • icon
    aethercowboy (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 5:59am

    I for one am glad to not have to face a future of purchasing a beer that has a high level of violence, language, or sexuality not suitable for unaccompanied children under 17.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 8:00am

    Permission society be hanged. It's the Threat Of Litigation Society that's at work here. Who has the deeper pockets? It does you no good to Defend the Rightous straight into bankruptcy. Techdirt has documented that happening in other cases.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 8:41am

      Re:

      "Permission society be hanged. It's the Threat Of Litigation Society that's at work here."

      I think that those two phrases are just different descriptions of the same thing.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 8:10am

    Simple solution...

    ...rename it "Rated X". The MPAA abandoned that long ago.


    Bonus: might see sales go up!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:35pm

    Confusion

    "Is this just a really bad movie or am I drunk? I'm so confused!"

    See how that confusion occurs?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:39pm

    What will they do when it goes into the dictionary, sue? Remember Styrofoam, that became a word, not just a brand name. BIG MONEY got no soul.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 5:29pm

    Is the same if the beer where named 'R Rated' instead of 'Rated R'?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jan 2015 @ 10:04am

    MAFIAA at its best.

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


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