Monster Energy Buys A Brewery; Trademark Lawsuits Are Almost Sure To Follow

from the oh...oh-no dept

Did you all just hear that? That tiny, nearly silent series of screams you hear all around you? Well, that was the entire craft beer industry crying out in fear and pain. Why? Well, because Monster Beverage Corp announced that it is going to be a brewery.

Energy drinks maker Monster Beverage Corp (MNST.O) said on Thursday it had agreed to buy craft beer and hard seltzer maker CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective Llc for $330 million in cash, marking its entry into the alcoholic drinks market.

Monster said the deal would add alcoholic brands Cigar City, Oskar Blues, Deep Ellum, Perrin Brewing, Squatters and Wasatch brands to its beverage portfolio and not include CANarchy's restaurants.

If you're in the craft brewing industry and you're not dismayed at this news, then you don't know Monster Energy. This is the company that has taken trademark policing to caricature levels. If you need examples of this, they are legion. Monster Energy went after an autobody shop for using the letter M and the color green in its branding. Monster Energy opposed a teen's trademark application despite the branding being totally dissimilar. Monster Energy opposed the trademark for a pizza chain because it named itself Monsta Pizza. And on and on and on.

So why should this concern the brewing industries? Well, for starters, Monster Energy has attempted in the past to oppose and threaten liquor companies for the crime of having an "M" in their branding. Here is one brief snippet I wrote at the time in that post about Monster opposing a trademark application for Murlarkey Distillery:

To start, the two companies operate in different markets. Yes, both serve liquid for consumption, but one makes an energy drink, while the other is selling liquor, such as vodka. Those are distinct markets and not easily confused during the purchasing process.

With this acquisition, the above statement goes away in many respects. Suddenly, Monster is in the alcohol business. This lends weight to its ability to argue even more than it did before that there might be brand confusion in its attacks, even if those attacks remain frivolous. But even putting the Monster brand aside, take the brands in the acquisition itself. What does it mean, given that Monster now owns Oskar Blues Brewery, for Oscar's Brewing Company? Or any of the several different brews that are branded with the word "Oscar"?

And that's just taking one of the brands and taking the most obvious guesses as to where Monster Energy could get aggressive. As readers here will know, Monster goes well beyond the obvious targets and gets really, absurdly creative for who it thinks is infringing on its trademarks.

It's not a sure thing that this acquisition is going to be a nightmare for the craft brewing industry, but all of Monster's history of aggression sure points us in that direction.

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Filed Under: brewery, craft beer, monster, trademark, trademark bullying, trademark threats
Companies: monster energy


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  1. icon
    Blake C. Stacey (profile), 13 Jan 2022 @ 8:51pm

    Didn't Monster also get criticized in the not-too-distant past for slave labor in its supply chain?

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

  2. identicon
    Pixelation, 13 Jan 2022 @ 8:53pm

    Monster is a troll.

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

  3. icon
    jonr (profile), 13 Jan 2022 @ 9:26pm

    Update on the teen (actually, he was 21 at the time)

    I got curious, and found this update: https://www.theunion.com/news/nevada-city-energy-supplement-business-returns-after-2019-logo-opposit ion-from-monster-energy/

    In short, he redesigned his logo to remove any obvious "M" - it's now so stylized even Monster's lawyers apparently can't find a similarity.

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

  4. identicon
    Annonymouse, 13 Jan 2022 @ 10:00pm

    I'm wondering if they will go after the word BLUE in any beverage name.

    Monster may be a Troll but Interbrew, the owner of the Labatt series of labels could and would squish em like the bug they are.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonmylous, 13 Jan 2022 @ 10:22pm

    With a little luck...

    Hopefully we'll see those Monster has gone after in the past fight Monster's attempt to amend their trademark to include the alcoholic beverage category and give them a taste of the legal stick they've been wielding. Do we start a gofundme for them now or should we wait?

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2022 @ 11:16pm

    Re:

    There once was an out of the blue...

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

  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 1:22am

    Nothing has actually happened but that will not stop Timothy's hyperbole because he doesn't like Monster. Now share with the class which reprehensible coffee/energy drink company you enjoy purchasing the products of and will as such never criticize on this blog. Every company is bad unless Timmy likes their products.

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

  8. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 3:13am

    Something something Oscar is appropriate... they are rude & trash.

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

  9. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 3:25am

    Only in your dreams, pal.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 3:28am

    Its a good job that sellers are not subject to strict trademark liability, because if they were the courts would be clogged until the collapsed by Monster cases.

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

  11. icon
    hij (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 3:36am

    Watch out Wasatch

    If Monster gets the word Wasatch in its portfolio associated with a food item then the entire state of Utah has just been put on watch. That alone should keep Monster's lawyers busy until the Second Coming. If there is any justice in the world they should all be cast into outer darkness by that time.

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

  12. icon
    hij (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 3:42am

    Re: is it Timothy or what Timothy wrote?

    Your concerns would probably have a greater impact if you could be bothered to address something (anything) that Timothy wrote rather than focus on Timothy himself. Hearing a counter point as to why his examples are over blown would be great, but just whining about "hyperbole" is just another form of exaggeration.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 4:03am

    Re: Re:

    There once was an out of the blue
    Who possessed not one gram of a clue
    He'd rant and he'd rave
    but nobody gave
    any more than a heartfelt "Fuck you"

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

  14. icon
    sandy_freelance (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 5:12am

    vs Monster cable, please

    Please please have Monster Energy buy a guitar accessories vendor so we can FINALLY get the 'Monster Cable vs Monster Energy' fight we've all been wanting!

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re:

    There once was an out of the blue
    Who possessed not one gram of a clue
    He'd rant and he'd rave
    but nobody gave
    any more than a heartfelt "Fuck you"

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 5:42am

    Re: Update on the teen (actually, he was 21 at the time)

    Good on him!
    Unfortunately, the new logo looks a bit like a hazardous goods shipping label ;)

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

  17. icon
    Dan (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 6:11am

    Just wait until the genetics folks craft an actual monster

    Just wait until the genetics folks craft an actual monster. Let's see 'em win that one.

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

  18. icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 14 Jan 2022 @ 8:43am

    This is what happens when you allow generic terms to be trademarked.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 11:22am

    Ah this sucks, I love Squatters. Great place if you're ever downtown Salt Lake.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 12:14pm

    Re:

    Why don’t you share with the class what Tim did to shatter your extra fragile ego?

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2022 @ 9:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Honestly I prefer the original, but this one got a loud chuckle out of me. Thanks.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jan 2022 @ 3:52pm

    Monster vs. Red Bull
    Make it so, Number One.

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

  23. identicon
    Bobvious, 16 Jan 2022 @ 6:07am

    Oskar/Oscar

    Wait until they buy into the motion picture industry.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2022 @ 9:22am

    Re: Update on the teen (actually, he was 21 at the time)

    Good on him!
    Unfortunately, the new logo looks a bit like a hazardous goods shipping label ;)

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

  25. icon
    Lostinlodos (profile), 16 Jan 2022 @ 10:43am

    Liquor?

    Well, one thing I could say; anyone who’s ever been in a liquor store will notice the energy drinks right next to the malts and coolers and etc.
    so bitching about branding on drinks sold side by side is actually one of their more* reasonable assaults. Reasonable in relation to general brand crap complaints.

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

  26. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 17 Jan 2022 @ 1:11am

    Re: Liquor?

    "Reasonable in relation to general brand crap complaints."

    I'm afraid "Monster" left the domain of "reasonable" a long time ago. Trademark, to me, is the one rational part of Intellectual Property I can respect but there are some people, like Nintendo and Monster, who partake in the sport of firing lawyers more or less at random.

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


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