16 January 2012

Freetail Brewing Responds to Cease and Desist Letter

Gosh, I like Scott Metzger!  Besides owning one of my favorite brew pubs, he's got a great sense of humor. A week or so ago, his reply to a cease a desist letter regarding use of the term Hopsaurus Rex hit the Internet  that got almost as much notice as the Overrated Breweries thread on Beer Advocate.

Even though the letter is redacted, it didn't take long for me to figure out the offended brewery was Steelhead Brewing in Oregon. I consulted Google.

I searched for "Hoposaurus Rex" (waiting on the Cease and Desist letter now for using that name on Google) and found two other breweries that have used the name Hoposaurus Rex: Steelhead Brewing in Eugene and Burlingame, Oregon; and Titletown Brewing in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Since Scott said he had a beard, too, I think we can rule out a Green Bay brewery (who has likely also received a Cease and Desist letter). While I understand the need to protect copyrights secure, I don't understand how a a brew pub in Oregon can claim nationwide rights. But, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't care.

These things have come up before. A thread in the Brewing Network Forums revealed that Magic Hat Brewing had served a Cease and Desist on Georgetown Brewing to stop using the numeral 9 on their label.  Magic Hat felt that 9 LB Hammer Porter would confuse people looking for Magic Hat #9. (I don't know why the brewery didn't change it to Nine Pound Hammer - removing the offending numeral, but again, I'm not a lawyer.)

Today, it seems, Cease and Desist letters are the norm. Back in 2001, two brewers discovered they both made a beer called Salvation. What did they do? They sat down together over a couple of beers and decided that Russian River Brewing Company and Avery Brewing Company could share the name. (I guess they realized most people actually read the labels to make sure they get what they want, and don't just assume.  Whatever. I'm not a lawyer, but I am a bit tired of government and companies telling us how stupid we are, but, that's another post.) Later, they decided to blend the two beers and came up with Collaboration not Litigation Ale.

At any rate, my little temper tantrum here won't make breweries pick up the phone and call the other party before deploying the nuclear option--getting a lawyer to write an insulting letter.  But I did learn how to respond with resorting to shouting "Pha Q!" (You'll have to say that out loud.)

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to trademarking (830) and (210). I need me some of that phat brewery litigation money. . .

Meanwhile, head over to Scott's blog for his response to this whole thing going viral.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 12:13

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