News Cerveceria Costa Rica (Magic Hat) Suing West Sixth Brewing

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Nutwood, May 21, 2013.

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  1. RangnaR

    RangnaR Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 California

    However, it would not be weird to assume that all bears, with or without numerals, came from the woods...
    rlcoffey and Roguer like this.
  2. ackeeper

    ackeeper Disciple (372) Dec 22, 2008 Illinois

    After reading all of the posts in this thread, it has become painfully clear to me that there are many (butchered) legal arguments being made by BAs who are not lawyers, but who play lawyers on TV BeerAdvocate.
    AReed and fields336 like this.
  3. jazzmac

    jazzmac Initiate (0) Nov 8, 2002 Connecticut

    To the average consumer (i.e. not on BA) if the products were placed next to each other in a crowded beer cooler would be perceived as being produced by the same brewer. As much as West 6th denies it, SOMEONE, was influenced by MH design when the logo was conceived. Images are easy to trademark as opposed to words and you need to do your due diligence before you produce something. New England Brewing had an issue with Imprrial Stout Trooper, it had nothing to do with the name or the font (exact same as Star Wars), but the Stormtrooper image on the bottle caused the problem with Lucasfilm.
  4. Volntitan

    Volntitan Initiate (0) May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    I really don't care anymore. The whole thing is silly. I only hope West 6th "prevails" to the point they aren't put out of business. Mostly because the beer world is much better off with their product than Magic Hat's.
  5. WillWillows

    WillWillows Initiate (0) Feb 2, 2013 Ohio

    I was hoping the HP Magic Hat would make it disappear. I like West 6th Beer.
  6. BrettHead

    BrettHead Devotee (479) Sep 18, 2010 Nebraska

    west sixth sound like bro's.

    I hate bro's...

    edit: Never had a beer from either company and now I really could care less. Although I will say this made me aware of west sixth which I wasn't before.
  7. Shagator

    Shagator Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2012 Kentucky

    West Sixth is a good brewery, but the people that designed their logo probably didnt do their due dillegence and now WS is paying for it. I have read almost everything I can on this, and I still think that MH is bullying. However, West Sixth producing Amber hurt their case. Not only does the can look more like #9 but the beer sucks so it could be easily confused with a magic hat brew.

    West Sixth is ditrributed in a very small footprint and most of the people that would be drinking it or magic hat would know the diefference, and I dont see how anyone can get the logos confused.
  8. JGam115

    JGam115 Disciple (359) Apr 8, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    I completely agree. The "famous" quality is the most difficult point to argue for most dilution claims. That is critical to having that claim stick. I'm really surprised the star wasn't cited.
    AReed likes this.
  9. JGam115

    JGam115 Disciple (359) Apr 8, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    I thought you were a fanboy before, but reserved judgment. Now after you cited that Bear Republic Racer 5 should be lumped into this discussion proves that. Nobody in their right mind would confuse the two, and no lawyer would consider action against Bear Republic because no jury or judge with the gift of sight would see those marks as similar.

    I guess you said Racer 5 because taking action against them is as ridiculous as taking action against West Sixth? Because a 6 isn't a 9, it's a 6? While I appreciate the sarcasm, it doesn't prove anything.
  10. JGam115

    JGam115 Disciple (359) Apr 8, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    If you truly believe the logos or marks are so different as to make this suit ridiculous, allow me to cite another true life court case.

    World Wide Fund for Nature is still the WWF today because the legal system in the UK determined the World Wrestling Federation infringed on their marks. This happened in 2002. True this was the UK and not the US, but I feel it's still relevant.

    Two completely different businesses - well one business and one not-for-profit - in different markets with different mission statements with completely different logos. And yet, the court sided with the Nature fund and Federation needed to be changed to Entertainment.

    Edit: yes there was a prior legal agreement in place between Titan Sports and the Fund about the use of the WWF initials which was said to have been violated in 2002. That just shows how insanely specific and ridiculous companies and individuals need to be when considering their marks. No one in their right mind would confuse the two, yet each company's legal team sought to put this agreement in place to remove all doubt. And the courts enforced it. Madness.
    bigfnjoe likes this.
  11. aus10face

    aus10face Initiate (140) Jul 25, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I vacation in Costa Rica and have consumed many Cerveceria Costa Rican Beers, they are shit but that is pretty much all there is. Pilsen and Imperials.
  12. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,370) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

    Just because they own Magic Hat, does not mean that Magic Hat brews garbage.

    If we drop the bias against MH for a minute, we can see that MH is just doing what any other company would do, even if we find it frivolous as BAs.

    If you want ridiculous though, you should see what Hansens and Monster Energy tried to do to Rock Art and the Vermonster. The logos weren't similar, the beverages were as far apart as they could be but it did not stop Hansens from trying to sue the shit out of Rock Art.
    cavedave, woosterbill and frazbri like this.
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,287) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Brad007, cavedave and woosterbill like this.
  14. aus10face

    aus10face Initiate (140) Jul 25, 2012 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Pilsen and Imperial are shit, basically Budweiser. Said nothing about MH in my post.
  15. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    Because magic hat's lawyers are that good or because a jury is going to be so stupid they don't know base 10 numbers?
  16. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    Keep in mind based on what's being said the confusion is that the consumer would think they were buying a Magic hat #9, not just any other Magic Hat product.
  17. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    No, they asked for them to change it, run all changes by them, change all marketing materials over night, and give them all profits the company made for a year (or at least an accounting of them so a settlement of lost profits could be assessed). This means this company feels that this logo was not just using their concepts but COST them money directly. As in people bought west six instead of magic hat #9.
  18. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    You think west six has the money for a graphic designer? LOL. Talk about being a snob!

    As the labels looks nothing alike I"m not sure where you're coming from and to be honest I doubt anyone in Kentucky not part of the beer world had ever seen the magic hat lable till about the time west six came to be since they didn't send their beer here and it being awful and I mean awful beer...who'd have gone out of their way to try it?

    Now I'm not saying West Six makes good beer as their IPA is at best a 3.0 on the beer advocate scoring system which is better than magic hat #9 a clear 1.1 at best.
  19. VTMoondog

    VTMoondog Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Vermont

    Somebody got paid for that didn't pop on the cans out of nowhere.
    Either way this brouhaha works out..West 6th wins. Until this debacle, NOBODY has ever heard of them, now everyone knows of them. Good job West 6th. No such thing as bad press, huh?
    AReed and cavedave like this.
  20. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    Eh...given how limited their distribution is and that they have just recently added their second canned beer and that they sell far more of their beer in their market than magic hat does...I don't see how this has helped. And again they make below average beer...something hopefully someday magic hat can live up to.

    They paid someone to make the logo....someone in kentucky who most likely didn't know what magic hat was. This however is a major difference from what you implied.

    Either way the logos look nothing alike. This is a petty legal suit and your stupid comments are just that.
  21. VTMoondog

    VTMoondog Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Vermont

    No need to be rude. Last I checked, name calling is frowned upon here. We all have our opinions..none of which matter. We can argue all day like everyone else on here, but at least be civil.
    As I mentioned way earlier in this discussion, ignorance on the part of the graphic people/brewery is no excuse in this multi-billion $$ industry.
    AReed and woosterbill like this.
  22. jamesewelch

    jamesewelch Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Vermont

    I'm pretty sure Ben Self, the co-founder who's making all of the Facebook, blogs, Rwitter, Reddit, and every other social media tool posts, has enough money to hire lawyers and graphic artists. After working on Howard Dean's Internet team (yes, he worked for the former Governor of Vermont, where Magic Hat and #9 is located and widely available), he co-founded an Internet startup with 4 other Howard Dean workers and turned it into a $14-million/yr company and a few years later he took a golden parachute, after helping Obama's internet/social media campaign (and many other non-profits and for-profit entities). He's a social media genius and technology guru and he served as the DNC (Democratic National Committee) Technology Directory as part of their senior staff in the 2008 election cycle.

    So while I think the guy (who also has an MIT degree) is super smart and has done great work for Democratic party, I also believe he can afford a lawyer or to hire a graphic designer. Heck, with the "friends in high places" connections he's established over the last few years, he probably knows dozens of politicians who also have law degrees (not that I'd trust a politician lawyer over a lawyer with a real job, but still... he's not broke).

    I'd even wager that if he asked the company that originally designed his logo to change it, they'd probably even do it for free (or reduced rate) since the graphic artist company is technically who's to blame. I'd even wager that there's artists in the MH's Artifactory that would help design him a new logo, too. Heck, he can even do like some breweries and hold a contest to design a new logo and let him pick a winner. That way he'd get even more PR for the logo design competition and it would be free to him.

    Regardless of whether MH's trademark claim is valid, look at their history. Both companies who they entered into disputes with were resolved without this much drama. The part about "taking all their revenue" was the opening salvo, just like in any dispute or bargaining, you always start at top and work your way to middle ground. Both other breweries that MH had disputes with resolved their issues and everyone is happily making beer.
    JGam115, AReed, cavedave and 3 others like this.
  23. Jake_Ramrod

    Jake_Ramrod Initiate (180) Feb 19, 2013 Kentucky

    Are you serious Clark? So, West Sixth needs to just accept this BS and spend money they don't have to change their marketing platform, canning facilities, swag, etc.? Absurd. Just bend over and take it with a smile? Ridiculous. Their response was completely justified. And, I find any approval of Magic Hat's actions to be frankly unbelieveable.
  24. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    I'm not claiming ignorance. I'm pointing out that magic hat's #9 isn't that well known as you've implied. Again the labels look nothing alike and there is no reasonable chance that anyone would mistake a magic hat #9 with a west six brand beer.

    While reasonable people can disagree this is pushing the limits of what is reasonable. You find me a person who bought a west six thinking it was a magic hat #9 and we can continue. Otherwise this is truly insanity.
  25. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    A business owner shouldn't have to spend money that isn't coming from the business. Though you have made me dislike West Six more than I used to...hard to support anyone who works for a Democrat or Republican politician at the national level and when the beer isn't very good either...yikes.

    Though the idea that it's good negotiation to open with absurd requests is just silly. If that's how a company wants to operate that's fine, but it's going to result when made public with a shit storm like we've seen with this. In a world with so many beer choices this is a clearly unquestionable justification to stop buying anything magic hat produces. And thankfully this information has been put out there so everyone knows enough to make that choice.
  26. babaracas

    babaracas Poo-Bah (1,814) Jan 30, 2008 Florida

  27. chippo33

    chippo33 Meyvn (1,105) Feb 29, 2012 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    Because of the power, money, and leverage of the the magic hat corporation.
  28. koflaherty

    koflaherty Initiate (194) Nov 11, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Please can people stop saying there is no risk of confusion? I get it, you don't find them similar which in no way reflects any homer or small brewery bias, but these endless posts about how different they are is ridiculous. I've been involved in a number of trademark issues (never in litigation but a number in negotiation) and I've been forced to resolve much smaller differences than the ones between these. Search the web - there are thousands of case examples. Heck, medical errors are a huge issue even between products that have different formulations, different names, and different places of access (I work in pharma and I've had to rename some products too). Do you think medical professionals are less motivated to get it right than a Number 9 drinker?

    I'm rooting for West 6th on this one and I signed their petition because I don't think it's good for the industry for big brewers to take small brewers to court. But to suggest West 6th is blindsided by a unreasonable lawsuit is just nuts.
    AReed and cbeer88 like this.
  29. koflaherty

    koflaherty Initiate (194) Nov 11, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

  30. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (957) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    They already posted the designers website while pounding their chest on social media. So they did have a professional do it. And its not hard to alter stuff. I've done it many times before in this industry for one reason or another. How much marketing could they have? I don't know many small breweries that have any at all. If west sixth didn't want to deal with the pitfalls of owning a business then they should've found some other profession.
    chimneyjim and woosterbill like this.
  31. tommyz

    tommyz Devotee (420) May 28, 2007 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Oh no...Look what I found..Black Star Farms in Michigan uses a "star"

  32. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,252) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I bolded the part of importance.
    This is the argument, summarized in two sentences, that all arguing against MH are using. Frankly, it is ridiculous to say, even if it is true, as it is just a bunch of made up crap. No one making above claim, and there seem to be many of you, especially from Kentucky and nearby areas (not surprisingly haha), has shown the logos to thousands of folks and asked their opinons. The "reasonable people" with "no reasonable chance of mistaking the two logos" is most likely one guy and his wife, or someone and three of his friends.

    Trademark law is complex, except this one part: you must defend your trademark, or be unable to defend it in the future. This point, and the point in first paragraph, are all that is necessary to know that there certainly is enough of a dispute to justify needing a legal ruling to settle it.
  33. bobhits

    bobhits Meyvn (1,153) Oct 31, 2006 Kentucky

    I looked at the labels, I can't find anything remotely similar enough to warrant anyone being confused. I can't for the life of me understand your stance on this. We clearly have to agree to disagree as again I can't see it.

    I can't comment on the medical world as what goes on there just from the outside makes you wonder what planet we are living on.
  34. jamesewelch

    jamesewelch Initiate (0) May 11, 2012 Vermont


    The Lexington Herald updated their story using the more similarly colored cans. While I think both sides have faults and made mistakes (and if I was into naming calling, I'd call both MH lawyers and Self similar names), I still think its silly for anyone to say there's no similarities between the two cans/logos. Regardless of who wins/loses, the only real losers in this battle is us, the craft beer drinkers for having to put up with the social media drama over the last week.
  35. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,470) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Actually, the claim Magic Hat is trying to make--or at least part of the claim--is that consumers will be confused as to the *source* of the product, which is one of the clues, to me, that Magic Hat is basically firing a trademark shotgun and hoping that in the broad spray of claims, that one of the will find the mark (pun intended).
  36. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,470) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Comparing a mark confusion in a consumer good like beer to trademark confusion in a field like pharma is a nonstarter. The industries are too disparate to draw any meaningful conclusions from one to the other.

    All I can say is that yes, there are some similar elements between West Sixth's and Magic Hat's logos. Yes, those similar elements make it impossible to declare that there is "zero" risk of confusion. However there are enough distinguishing elements between the two cans (since this is the context in which consumers would be capable of confusing the two) to ensure that the likely end-consumer will not confuse the sources of the two products. Meaning there is *minimal* risk--certainly not enough to warrant the major costs West Sixth would have to incur to eliminate that minimal risk. Consumers will never see these two logos in the ridiculous context that Magic Hat is using for the basis of their claim (with the WS logo upside down), which means that the only way in which Magic Hat can reasonably argue for confusion is on the idea that the stylized "6" represents another product under Magic Hat's umbrella.

    I honestly think the existence of the Amber Ale makes the confusion less likely, because you now have two brands with identical styles and different color palettes that suggest a brand family more strongly than West Sixth IPA and Magic Hat #9 suggest a brand family.
  37. AReed

    AReed Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2013 Kentucky

    Yep... this. To everyone saying that you cannot see the similarities... really?? I live in Lexington and love the take off of craft beer around here. But the FIRST thing I said to my friends when West 6th launched was "uh oh, they are stealing Magic Hat #9's branding. Here comes a lawsuit!" And now it happened, shocking.

    Yes, MH is now owned by a beverage conglomerate, and yes West 6th is the "little guy" in comparison, but if you don't think W6 is also trying to make money, (or if another start up around Lex infringed on the W6 branding that they wouldn't threaten legal action), then you are crazy.

    Also, Country Boy for life.
    VTMoondog likes this.
  38. koflaherty

    koflaherty Initiate (194) Nov 11, 2009 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Do you have any idea what you're talking about? Trademark law is not industry specific. For example, right now I'm negotiating with a software company.

    You've posted repeatedly on what you see as the differences. Stop it.
  39. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,470) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Oh hey everyone, the forum arbiter is here. We can all stop sharing our opinions now. [rolls eyes]

    It's really quite amazing that, over 500 posts worth of discussion, I managed to avoid having anyone act like a jerk towards me on this issue. Thanks for bucking the trend.

    Also, I didn't say that trademark law is different depending on industry. The law is obviously the law, but the law itself allows for the differences in the projected consumer of the products on which a mark is being disputed. The level of acceptable difference between marks can vary from industry to industry, not because the law is different from industry to industry, but because confusion depends on perception, and perception can vary from consumer base to consumer base.
  40. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,370) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

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