Long Trail Brewing Sues East Coast Apparel Company Over 'Take A Hike' T-Shirt

from the seriously,-take-one dept

The last time we checked in with Long Trail Brewing, the Vermont brewery was busy fighting a Minnesota brewer that had dared to put a stick figure of a hiker on its beer can. It seems that rather than basing its trademark legal expeditions on any real or potential customer confusion, Long Trail views trademark law as a vehicle for monopoly and lawsuit-driven income. Long Trail is certainly not alone in this view, unfortunately, but it does have a penchant for taking this sort of thing to ridiculous lengths.

Such as going after an apparel company for a simple t-shirt using an incredibly generic phrase, for instance. Long Trail has initiated a trademark lawsuit with a company called Chowdaheadz because the latter dared to make a shirt with the phrase "Take a hike" on it. As the filing explains, Long Trail has trademarked the phrase for its use and has sold apparel with the phrase on it.

8. Long Trail is, and it has been since the 1990's, engaged in the business of selling apparel and other products under the trademark Take a Hike. Since late last century, Long Trail has continuously used the trademark Take a Hike in connection with its apparel, beer and other products.

9. Long Trail has expended and continues to expend a substantial amount of resources using, advancing, and promoting its trademark Take a Hike and the products and services with which it uses the trademark.

10. Long Trail is engaged in a variety of socially and environmentally conscious efforts in the Vermont community and has used its trademark Take a Hike in support of those efforts.

Apparel is indeed among the trademarks Long Trail has for the phrase. However, on so common a phrase as "Take a hike", one imagines the bar for customer confusion is quite high. That is all the more so when the target for an infringement suit, in this case Chowdaheadz, uses the phrase in a way that calls nothing about Long Trail, or any other beer for that matter, to mind. Long Trail can and does attempt to drive the point that its use of the phrase on a number of mediums has created a public association with the brewery... but that's ridiculous. Nobody traveling to the Chowdaheadz website and perusing the cornucopia of apparel it has there, and then coming across the following t-shirt, is going to somehow conclude that there is any association with Long Trail.


If you can find customer confusion in that t-shirt, you've got a brain malfunction. It's also worth noting that there are roughly a zillion companies out there with "Take a hike" t-shirts, so why Chowdaheadz has been singled out for this legal action is puzzling. For its part, Chowdaheadz says it isn't backing down. In its response to Long Trail's initial threats, its legal team said:

While we appreciate that your client has used “TAKE A HIKE” on clothing and miscellaneous items for many years, we must point out that the phrase itself appears in every English-language dictionary in publication, and has been in widespread public use since at least as early as 1809. It is the epitome of the type of common, generic phrase that should not be monopolized by a single owner.

To illustrate this point, representative examples of clothing items for sale with the phrase “Take a Hike” on them are attached to this letter. You will note that Google retrieved listings for 642,000 such items in 0.46 seconds. You may also note that my client’s item appeared as the top search result, while, in contrast, your client did not appear at all.

It's hard to see how a claim of either genericide or that the phrase was generic prior to Long Trail's registration won't be seen to have merit. In other words, Long Trail risks losing its trademark entirely by being the bully. I'm struggling to see how this was anything resembling an intelligent business decision by the brewery.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2017 @ 7:33pm

    "How dare you do it better than us!"

    You may also note that my client’s item appeared as the top search result, while, in contrast, your client did not appear at all.

    I suspect that that might be the main reason for the lawsuit. The target's product is more successful than the products offered by the one suing, and they must be punished for it.

    It's a stupid lawsuit that has the potential to backfire and invalidate the trademark(which never should have been granted in the first place), but when considered a knee-jerk response to someone else doing better than them it does make at least some sense.

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

    • identicon
      David, 23 Oct 2017 @ 11:46pm

      Re: "How dare you do it better than us!"

      You may also note that my client’s item appeared as the top search result, while, in contrast, your client did not appear at all.

      Irrelevant. Much more important than the web search ranking is the law company ranking. This isn't Timbuktu.

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 23 Oct 2017 @ 7:53pm

    If you succeeded once, do it again!

    Not that I disagree with "How dare yoiu do it beter!", but...

    These guys have been successful once being trademark bullies and trolls, so they are trying it again.

    Hopefully a good judge will toss it and award attorney's fees for the trouble.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Oct 2017 @ 8:01pm

      Re: If you succeeded once, do it again!

      Attorney's fees would be nice, but what really needs to happen is for them to lose the trademark. 'Take a hike' is absurdly generic, the idea that a single company should have the legal rights to it and be able to sue others for using it is ridiculous.

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

      • identicon
        Scote, 23 Oct 2017 @ 8:39pm

        Creating unique marks

        What ever happened to having to spell common words in a unique way to be able to get a trademark? Such as "Kamera Korner" or other misspellings of words. You shouldn't be able to trademark common words or phrases.

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

        • identicon
          David, 23 Oct 2017 @ 11:36pm

          Re: Creating unique marks

          Tell that to Apple (both Apple Computers and Apple Records and their already well-acquainted lawyers). And can you imagine what would happen if a nerf ball company printed "Windows compatible" on their products?

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

          • identicon
            Dingledore the Mildly Uncomfortable When Seated, 24 Oct 2017 @ 2:02am

            Re: Re: Creating unique marks

            And can you imagine what would happen if a nerf ball company printed "Windows compatible" on their products?

            Depends on whether they sell window frames or not.

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

            • identicon
              David, 24 Oct 2017 @ 3:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Creating unique marks

              People selling lactose-free milk do not need to deal in lactose-intolerant slaves to be allowed to advertise their milk.

              In my youth, we played quite a bit with windows incompatible balls, over the years racking up quite a bit of window pane bills. The ball companies were not really colluding with the window companies even though driving their profits.

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

        • identicon
          Christenson, 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:42am

          Re: Teik a Haik! lol

          Agreed, the mark should be tossed as well as the suit!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 3:11am

    I get so tired hearing this company suing that company all the time over moronic garbage that is preclusive to protecting trademarks and copyrights. Its a fucking wonder America gets anything done at all.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 3:31am

    Boy, Long Trail sure does engage in a lot of activities. Too bad making good beer is not one of them

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

    • identicon
      Christenson, 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:46am

      Re: Sue your way to success!

      It's the new business model...make a crappy product, sue the competition, profit when they pay you to go away .... see also East Texas, copyright trolls and crappy films!

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 6:26am

    Has this brewery sued the Park Service et al. yet for daring to run the Appalachian Trail?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 8:29am

    I think Long Trail Brewing should change their name to
    "Monster Long Trail Brewing and take a long walk off a short pier after which they could take a hike and step off.

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

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 12:34pm

    Never heard of them... Until now...

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

    • icon
      McGyver (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Never heard of them... Until now...

      But... I never heard of Long Trail Brewing...
      Not in the entire time I've been drinking beer...
      I've heard the the phase "Take a Hike".
      I've been telling people to "Take a hike" since the 70s...
      So now the first time I hear of this brewery, it's in regard to them suing someone over a common phrase...
      This is a great way of getting people to know your brand... Look like a greedy copyright trolling bunch of douchebags.

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

  • identicon
    jimbo, 24 Oct 2017 @ 1:25pm

    Duh

    Let's tell Long Trail to "take a hike"

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Oct 2017 @ 3:40pm

      Re: Duh

      I wondered how many comments would be needed before we took this path...

      They should have gone the Randazza-Snark path and told them explicitly to "Take a Hike" in their response letter - lets hope it happens in the court fillings :)

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 24 Oct 2017 @ 5:40pm

    Just more proof that Google is evil!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Oct 2017 @ 7:41am

    I would suggest going to their FB page and letting them know how you feel.. These guys are a joke:
    https://www.facebook.com/longtrailbrewingco

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

  • identicon
    Bryon Patten, 27 Oct 2017 @ 8:26am

    Seriously?

    I think Long Trail forgets that they are a "Brewing" company not an "Apparel" company. Stay in your lane!

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

  • icon
    Cvnk (profile), 27 Oct 2017 @ 1:35pm

    That shirt certainly confused this customer

    Because it clearly says "Take a Hake". What does a scenic mountain vista have to do with hake? That's no place for a fish.

    (BTW, Chowdaheadz. If you use that argument in your defense I expect a fee.)

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


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