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. ffOpusx

    ffOpusx Initiate (175) Dec 17, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    west st logo, looks like pac man swallowing a pellet!
  2. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Zealot (594) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Shhhhh. Atari needs money these days. Don't give them any ideas.
  3. Tballz420

    Tballz420 Meyvn (1,187) Mar 4, 2003 Minnesota

    After thinking about this for a number of hours, I can see magic hat's point of view. I had never noticed their star in the center of the 9 until now, but the shape of the number and the star are very similar.

    If they are being honest and they tried to work with the small brewery for 6 months or a year or whatever, then yeah, they do have a legal obligation to protect their trademark.

    I'm not going to look it up, but I think there was an article in BA magazine 2 issues ago where the writer postulated that the end of the touchy feely craft era was over, and this might be one of the opening shots.
    jamvt likes this.
  4. watermelonman

    watermelonman Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2004 California

    I was going to read the rest of this thread but you have already won, good sir.
  5. Janeinma

    Janeinma Devotee (426) May 24, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    If only there was some huge event coming up where a statement could be made! How strongly do people feel about this, should the Bros tell Magic Hat they aren't welcome at the ACBF,should they be asked not to bring #9?
    Should that be repeated at every beer test through summer. Perhaps a strong showing of repulsion for bullying would convince them that this is a marketing fiasco.
    FinbarrSaunders likes this.
  6. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    Jimi said "Well if a 6 turned out to be 9, I don't mind." Anyway, it ain't like either of them are really taking the world by storm. How very...uhm...modern industrial.
    chimneyjim likes this.
  7. VTMoondog

    VTMoondog Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Vermont

    No, it's about integrity, and it's about jobs. Yeah, yeah corporate profit...blah blah, but it comes down to keeping people employed. Too many in this thread have tried to cloud the issue around the beer and it's quality, this has nothing to do with beer. It has to do with property. You don't steal the property of others, or at best confuse people into thnking your product is the product of a competitor. I've thought this over some more since last night, and if MH did try in good faith to hash this out and West 6th didn't budge, then they may well deserve a good old fashioned lawsuit.
    Again, West hired an inferior, uncreative, lousy designer/design firm, and they should be fired immediately and forced to go back to art school.
    jamvt and Frankinstiener like this.
  8. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (512) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    I never drank Magic Hat beers anyway, except to try a single in a mix six once or twice, which didn't impress me.

    So now I'm going to increase the amount I don't drink! Take that, Magic Hat!
  9. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Do they have any proof that anyone thinks that?

    I asked a group last night, and the only person who thought the label was confusing was a teetotaler. So he isnt in the target demographic at all.
  10. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    As Magic Hat hasnt been considered "craft" by the Brewers Association for a few years now, Im not sure this qualifies as an opening shot. This is international macrobrewer vs craft. Admittedly a smaller international macrobrewer than ABI or SABMiller or MolsonCoors, but still the same category.
  11. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    West 6th went from 0 bbls brewed in 2011 to 1938 bbls in 2012.

    It isnt the largest debut ever (Finch topped it in 2011, for one example off the top of my head), but its a pretty decent first year. And here in KY, they went from nonexistent to on shelfs everywhere in a hurry.

    It was reasonably stormy.
  12. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky


    Im not a fan of the design, but I still dont see how it rips off #9 at all. Its fucking hard to put a 6 on a logo that doesnt look like an upsidedown 9. And I dont think anyone should try that hard to make a "unique" six.

    Honestly*, I think Magic Hat ripped off the University of Alabama logo, which has a 10** instead of 9 in the middle.

    *not really
    **A is 10 in hexadecimal
  13. Nutwood

    Nutwood Aspirant (232) Jun 30, 2012 Kentucky

    The W6th design is bad
    It's derived directly from the #9 design

    Actually I think from a pure design standpoint, the 2 logos are more opposite than similar. Yes, they both incorporate a numeral, a circle, and a star, but these are common design elements. The overall presentation of these elements could not be more different.

    The distinctive and most outstanding element of the #9 design -- is chaos, movement, and fluidity.

    On the other hand, the West 6th logo gives the impression of something chiseled and solid, stable and well defined.
    YogiBeer and rlcoffey like this.
  14. Auror

    Auror Defender (644) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, from my limited understanding after talking to a friend of mine who is a copyright attorney, this is the part most people don't understand. If you don't even attempt to protect your trademark, you then can't do so in the future (at least successfully).
    jamvt and kingcrowing like this.
  15. kingcrowing

    kingcrowing Meyvn (1,476) Mar 24, 2009 Vermont
    Beer Trader

    You are correct, it's an important precedent for Magic Hat to set.
  16. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    So what is their excuse for threatening Georgetown with litigation over Nine Pound Porter? Did some tavern owner have an unoriginal, inferior idea for naming his tavern and he should have it taken away and forced to be a janitor? How the hell does Magic Hat own the rights to a Number?

    They've gone down this road before and are douche canoes for it.
  17. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    They could be called common elements but to use them all in the same design is quite a coincidence. I've been a graphic designer for 10+ years and never even used a start that looked like that.
  18. GregoryVII

    GregoryVII Initiate (150) Jan 30, 2006 Michigan

    Because we look at beer cans upside down?
  19. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    They arent even really the same usage, as the 6 is part of the circle, while the 9 is inside the circle. So only one is a circle around a numeral. The other is a numeral integrated into a circle.

    And why hasnt Magic Hat sued Major League Baseball? The circle around the number is very common usage.
  20. mwa423

    mwa423 Crusader (735) Nov 7, 2007 Ohio

    First off, I think it's important to note that the first letter to West Sixth was in September of 2012. It seems like Magic Hat has been willing to negotiate in good faith and West Sixth has decided to start crying about the big mean brewery 9 months later. Doesn't impress me.

    I think a lot of people here seem to be busy with hating on Magic Hat and actually ignoring the real issues at hand. No court or businessperson cares whether West Sixth IPA is great (it happens to be) or whether Magic Hat #9 sucks (also true). Magic Hat has posted what appears to be all of the letters between their lawyers and West Sixth here:

    Reading through those letters, it seems like Magic Hat is being as reasonable as they can possibly be and that West Sixth were going to make some changes. I suppose it's possible that sometime between the last letter and now Magic Hat demanded the brewer's firstborn, but everything I'm reading above seems pretty reasonable and relatively amicable (as far as legal matters go). At this point, while I enjoy West Sixth IPA, I think that it's pretty rotten that they decided to just take it to the streets and start screaming "damn the man, save West Sixth" in what appears to be a weak effort to intimidate Magic Hat (hint: It probably isn't and won't work). The big objection raised by Magic Hat are the scenarios (and they included examples) of where just the West 6th logo was used without the words "West Sixth" and that was what they objected to. From Magic Hat's lawyers: "Magic Hat requests that West Sixth agree to use its 6 logo consistantly with the words WEST SIXTH BREWING."

    There's another thing that apparently people here don't realize, to keep a trademark you have to affirmatively defend it. If another beer came out that was a dead rip-off of Magic Hat #9, a possible defense in court could be that Magic Hat let this West Sixth beer infringe on its trademark.

    At this point, I'm not buying any more Magic Hat than I already was (none) but I am going to stop buying West Sixth as well because I firmly believe West Sixth was in the wrong by making this issue public and not settling this matter within Magic Hat's very reasonable requests.
    Ericness, Sarlacc83, xFih2 and 4 others like this.
  21. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Cause the MLB doesn't make beer and just any 9 in a circle isnt the problem here? That is a terrible comparison.

    You are just reaching out for minor differences between the logos. I'm not saying west sixth blatantly ripped off the #9 logo but I really wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. I guess I can't blame them for wanting to look like a beer sold across the country.
    kingcrowing likes this.
  22. chimneyjim

    chimneyjim Initiate (160) Jun 23, 2004 Oregon

    It helps point out the similarities as well. You say the shapes of the numbers are different; I say the shapes of the numbers are very similar (although one of them is inverted). The West 6th star is in the same place as Magic Hat's # in relation to the number (when one of them is inverted). The logos are both circular. Perhaps most important to this discussion, they both represent brands of beer.
    KhakCane and Sarlacc83 like this.
  23. sefus12

    sefus12 Aspirant (224) Sep 7, 2006 Kentucky

    Again, none of us likely know the whole story. After reading through everything, I will take a small step-back from my West Sixth support (i'm still firmly behind them though), but my guess is that there's more to what happened than what we are hearing from either site. I'd be willing to be there's some grey area that isn't being relayed at this point...

    WIth that said, Go West Sixth. I'll be upset if you have to change your label as I find the IPA can one of the better looking craft cans on the market. Damn good beer too (which doesn't really figure into this).
  24. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    I dont think the shapes are that similar (past the general idea that a 6 is an upside down 9). On the W6 font, the loop connects back to the stem, on the MH one it doesnt. The W6 inside loop is more of a continuous curve, while the MH one has some straightish elements to it. The ball on the end of the stem is much more rounded in the W6 one, while flattened in the MH one. The horizontal elements are much thinner in the MH one than in the W6 one, while the vertical elements are fatter in the MH one.

    Im not normally a font guy, but Im friends with a couple and so Ive learned to look at these things somewhat. I have to stare to see them, but a font guy would pick them up immediately as different.

    I think if it was a 7 instead of a 6, no one would notice the similarities at all.
  25. Auror

    Auror Defender (644) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    The case's burden of proof is trademark confusion to some customers...not font guys. Most people can see that they are different. But are they similar enough to cause some confusion? Maybe. Especially the specific instances Magic Hat points out where the words West 6th are not visible and only the image is displayed.
    kingcrowing likes this.
  26. sefus12

    sefus12 Aspirant (224) Sep 7, 2006 Kentucky

    Official response from West Sixth. As I figured there was a bit more to things than Magic Hat was leading on. I recommend anyone interested in this story to read in full. The part of Magic Hat asking West Sixth to stop using the number "6" in anything is quite inappropriate (they are located on West Sixth Street, hence the name) if you ask me.
    Shagator likes this.
  27. CLCardinal84

    CLCardinal84 Aspirant (257) Jan 29, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    One of my best friends is an attorney in Lexington, I just texted him about it this morning and told him he should take the case.
    Shagator likes this.
  28. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Defender (609) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I've looked at the evidence, and I don't see any blatant stealing of design elements. How people could believe that others would confuse the West Sixth IPA with Magic Hat #9 is beyond my understanding. The label clearly states what brewery produces the beer, and anyone with the reading comprehension of a child can understand this.

    Poor design, maybe...blatant rip-off of #9...give me a break.

    I see no reason for West Sixth to be amenable to the demands of Magic Hat, and if I found myself in the same situation I would be giving a big FU to them as well.
  29. taalhiker

    taalhiker Initiate (122) Aug 26, 2008 Ohio

    The star is supposed to be a stylized compass rose and the west point (right side) points to the 6 = West Sixth - quite clever actually.
  30. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    As I said upthread, I asked a bunch of people about it last night. The only one who found them confusing was the teetotaler. So he is a consumer who would never be confused because he wouldnt be shopping for them anyway. The rest drink craft beer at least occasionally. Other than me none are beeradvocates. None of them saw any confusion whatsoever.

    So, its seems to me that the typical craft beer consumer has no trouble distinguishing between them.

    I still stand behind me math joke, they are either 33% or 50% different, so how could you confuse them?
  31. bradalmanac

    bradalmanac Initiate (139) Jan 1, 2010 Massachusetts

    You should read West Sixth's latest response before you deprive yourself of their beers...

    If what they're saying is true (and that's a big IF, because it's all suspect at this point), Magic Hat refused to negotiate further. It appears they had no choice but to go public, hoping social media would get Magic Hat to finally respond. It worked.
    LambicPentameter and cfaulman like this.
  32. biscodoll

    biscodoll Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2003 New York

    "It helps point out the similarities as well. You say the shapes of the numbers are different; I say the shapes of the numbers are very similar (although one of them is inverted). The West 6th star is in the same place as Magic Hat's # in relation to the number (when one of them is inverted). The logos are both circular. Perhaps most important to this discussion, they both represent brands of beer."

    Exactly.. the weight/balance of the # and the star in West 6ths are used in similar ways.

    I personally have a tendency to flip and rotate things mentally.. it's part of the IQ test I was given when I was 6 years old, the ability to know when an object is rotated or flipped not the same at all. I can read upside down, and know that a 6 is not a 9. The roundness of these fonts are absolutely similar enough that if I were walking down the aisles of a store that sold both of these, and they were near each other, I would absolutely assume that the West 6th was a spin off of #9, like maybe flavored with green apple, like how Ephemere comes a few flavors with slight varieties on their logo. I think the West 6 logo is absolutely something that a Magic Hat designer would create.

    If I liked MH, I might stop and check out the new brand, but instead I'd probably walk right by it assuming it was crap, too. Store owners best be putting these far apart, to encourage people to look at the West 6th brand.

    MH is definitely being extreme, but I think West 6th was stupid to go ahead with this logo, or banking on the idea that it would spark curiosity. That they have ignored the requests for 8 months and now choosing to use it as a marketing ploy is actually kind of icky.
  33. Retail1LO

    Retail1LO Initiate (0) May 4, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Be interesting to see how Tragic Hat responds to that.
  34. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (508) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I think Magic Hat has a legitimate case here. As several have pointed out there is a similarity in the logos. I've read West 6th's and MH's statements and it doesn't look like West 6th was cooperating to me. I don't think West 6th originally set out to infringe on any trademarks, but I think they saw an opportunity for free media coverage by not complying. I'm sure I'm not the only person who had never heard of West 6th until now. When hardly anyone [outside Kentucky] even knows who you are then, as they say, "any publicity is good publicity."

    Just ask Flying Dog if they think the lawsuits with states and surrounding media coverage about the names they choose for some of their beers helped or hurt them. :rolling_eyes:

    Besides, MH has no choice in the matter. If they feel there is a case for infringement, they have to pursue it or else lose the ability to defend their copyright later. I'm honestly surprised MH didn't lead with a lawsuit to catch them off guard (like Monster Energy drinks did to Rock Art a few years ago). Unlike most large corporations, MH was "polite" enough contact West 6th privately and gave them 6 months to consider the repercussions of compliance and prepare a social media campaign, which was rolled out surprisingly quick when the lawsuit hit.

    Go ahead and hate me...
  35. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Disagree. The # is before the number, the star is after the number.

    I think the biggest similarity is with the 8 pointed stars. But even those are somewhat different and differently places. And apparently not part of Magic Hat's trademark.

    Edit: Reading the lawsuit, I think I have to take back that last sentence. But someone said it upthread.
  36. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    First time I saw it I said "Huh, new brewery".

    In the last year I never even thought about any similarity between the two, probably because I rarely think about Magic Hat at all.

    I think I pointed out the dissimilarity of the fonts above too.

    From reading the W6 response, its sounds like they are willing to do plenty of changes to make it more distinctive, but they are unwilling to stop using the numeral six. A trademarked nine does not protect against the use of a six.
  37. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    [quote="Ranbot, post: 1338410, member: 109155" I've read West 6th's and MH's statements and it doesn't look like West 6th was cooperating to me.[/quote]


    They agreed to change 3 of the 4 things Magic Hat wanted changed.

    They drew the line at refusing to stop using a numeral six.

    How is that not cooperation?
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  38. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    Magic Hat has a history of this shit. They suck balls.
    HipsterBrewfus likes this.
  39. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,486) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    The fact that you have to qualify all these supposed similarities with "when one of them is inverted" is a huge red flag. Because as far as I'm aware, West Sixth doesn't use their logo upside down any more than Magic Hat uses theirs upside down. In fact, when it comes to trademarks, orientation is a HUGE part of the style and use standard that most companies produce to ensure that advertisers, partners and any other entity that might use their logo does it in the correct way that doesn't misrepresent the brand.

    And it baffles me that the color palette is being ignored by most people. The color palette, just like the shape of fonts and orientation of elements within the logo, is vital to distinguishing a trademark from other branding elements.
    chimneyjim likes this.
  40. biscodoll

    biscodoll Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2003 New York

    I think the numeral 6 would be fine if they just used a font that didn't have the same bulbous end. And yes, I know the # and * are on two different sides, but they still have the same effect for those of us who are able to read upside down and rotated.
    chimneyjim likes this.
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