Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Cerveceria Costa Rica (Magic Hat) Suing West Sixth Brewing

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. sefus12

    sefus12 Sep 7, 2006 Kentucky

    Founder's All Day IPA, 3Floyd's Alpha King APA.... both start with "Al". I smell some litigation...
  2. kingcrowing

    kingcrowing Mar 24, 2009 Vermont

    I find it really humorous how everyone is getting so worked up (rlcoffey in particular) over something they don't have any control over.
    Sarlacc83, Ranbot and 3leggeddub like this.
  3. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    Yes, that is my point, similar yet different. Can't we all get along?
  4. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    I dont have to get worked up over things I control, because I control them.
  5. fredmugs

    fredmugs Aug 11, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    On a somewhat similar note I just saw that Toppling Goliath is introducing a beer called Kentucky Breakfast Brand Stout. Ay carumba.
  6. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Apparently not.
  7. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Now that seems like a bad idea.

    IIRC, KBS is sold in Kentucky as KBS, because there is an issue with the name. I think its using the name "Kentucky" in a non-KY product.
  8. bonercity

    bonercity Feb 11, 2012 California

    Jake_Ramrod and Drucifer like this.
  9. GRBrew

    GRBrew Jan 12, 2009 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    There's an issue with using the word Kentucky when the beer is not made in Kentucky.
  10. GRBrew

    GRBrew Jan 12, 2009 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    :) Nice to meet you. No suicide, yet.
  11. birchholz

    birchholz Jul 21, 2010 Illinois

  12. Volntitan

    Volntitan May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    Was at Goose Island couple of years ago and they had "Beer Named Sue" on tap. Didn't see Yazoo getting their panties in a wad.
  13. Volntitan

    Volntitan May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    Actually they are calling it Kentucky Brunch Brand Stout. But they refer to it at KBBS.
  14. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Mar 18, 2010 California

    Wow, that is a good example of the pot calling the kettle black.
  15. Jason

    Jason Founder Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Moderator Site Editor Fest Crew Subscriber

    It is a very risky choice ... that is pretty much what I was getting at.
  16. Jason

    Jason Founder Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Moderator Site Editor Fest Crew Subscriber

    Considering that more than just a few people have stated the logos look similar West Sixth might have a problem with that ... it does not take much.
  17. Jason

    Jason Founder Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Moderator Site Editor Fest Crew Subscriber

    Regardless ... bringing Trademark disputes to this level is dangerous, I hope West Sixth carefully weighed their options as all of what they have done to date seems risky IMO. I am not taking sides as I said earlier.
  18. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Aren't they required to do more than just find a few people to admit that there are some similarities in the logos? There has to be some kind of demonstration that there is a likelihood that the projected end consumer will actually buy product A thinking that it's product B, or something similar.
  19. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Yes, but I believe the majority side with West Sixth. I could be wrong.
  20. dmfc906

    dmfc906 Jul 2, 2010 Illinois

    Pretty sure that was a small batch, brewpub only beer...not made for distribution.
  21. MGambleWWS

    MGambleWWS Nov 12, 2007 Massachusetts


    I think this image from the first page is really damning for any argument's that West 6th might come up with.

    Think about it this way: If I started making cans of soda with an inverted Coca-Cola logo on it but different colors, would I be infringing on Coca-Cola's marks? Of course. If I made paper towels and had an upside-down Brawny man on it, would I be infringing on Brawny's marks? Absolutely. Even if it's unintentional, you can't just flip someone's trademarked logo upside down and start using it.

    It is impossible to deny that the West 6 logo, when flipped upside down, is strikingly similar to the #9 logo. You can't defend that by saying it's a 6 and not a 9, because when you flip a 6 over it looks like a 9 and also just happens to look extremely similar to Magic Hat's 9. You could configure the West 6th logo a million different ways using the same elements and not have it look exactly like Magic Hat's logo when flipped over, but they didn't, and that's on them, not Magic Hat. They do not care about what your intent was when making the logo, the fact is that if you flip it over, it looks like Magic Hat's, and that's a trademark infringement.

    Magic Hat is well within their legal rights to defend their trademarks and are obligated to do so if they want to keep them. They have proceeded to do so in the way that the law allows for and it shouldn't be held against them. If anyone in this thread built a business on their trademarked creations and found someone infringing on them, I guarantee they would do the exact same thing. It's why you trademark stuff in the first place, so you have a legal way of defending it when someone uses it. I call shenanigans on anyone who says they wouldn't sue someone who was infringing on their own trademarks.
    kingcrowing and chimneyjim like this.
  22. Nutwood

    Nutwood Jun 30, 2012 Kentucky

    Cerveciera Costa Rica is in business with Pepsi, oddly enough.
  23. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    If my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. It's the number six, not the number nine.
  24. MGambleWWS

    MGambleWWS Nov 12, 2007 Massachusetts

    That's not the point. The point is that I could come up with 100000 different logos that have the character "6" in them that don't look exactly like Magic Hat's #9 logo flipped upside down. Unfortunately for West 6th, they made one that, when flipped upside down, looks exactly like Magic Hat's logo. Even though the intent wasn't to infringe on Magic Hat's logo, they still managed to do so, which still counts as a trademark infringement. Which is exactly why I can't flip Coca-Cola's label upside down and say "It doesn't say Coca-Cola, it says ɐloↃ-ɐɔoↃ" and expect to get away with it.
  25. Volntitan

    Volntitan May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    A 9 isn't a 6. Period. Not sure what is so hard to see that. If you turned it upside down, squashed the number down, made the star sign a # sign, removed teh "west sixth brewing company, change the color from green, white and dark blue green to orange and dark orange....

    I mean, come on.
  26. woosterbill

    woosterbill Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    Two points:

    1. MH agreed to let them keep using 6, provided it was always accompanied by the text WEST SIXTH BREWING. A number of different branded items included the logo without the text, including some (e.g. a circular taster tray) that could clearly be used in any orientation, making the upside-down similarity between the logos absolutely relevant.

    2. W6 is agreeing to 3 out of 4 now, but if you read through their letters you'll see that the change to the compass/star symbol is something that they initially offered to do in their very first letter, but then reneged on after MH (quite naturally) refused to give preemptive approval to a redesign without having seen it. Only after they reneged on that offer did MH file suit.

    First letter from W6: "West Sixth will agree to remove the 'stylized compass design' from...beer and ale products."

    Second letter from W6: "West Sixth will change the 'dingbat' design element to either remove it, change it, or replace it."

    Final letter from W6: "West Sixth would like to continue using this background design element."

    Making an offer, reaffirming said offer, and then reneging on that offer seems like the very definition of negotiating in bad faith, and I don't blame MH in the least for responding to this behavior with a lawsuit that similarly reverts to their original position of asking for everything in hopes of getting something.

    EDIT: P.S. Earlier in this thread, I made a post bashing MH for suing immediately without trying to reach an amicable settlement outside of court, since at that point I had only heard W6's side of the story and they neglected to mention the exchange of letters. Now that I've seen both sides, I'd like to retract my initial assessment and apologize to MH's corporate overlords for maligning them without knowing all the facts. My years-long boycott of their products will continue, but not because I think they've handled this issue poorly. They haven't.
    fields336, JG-90 and Ranbot like this.
  27. Volntitan

    Volntitan May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    Option 1: say nothing and roll over and present themselves for MH to do what they want.
    Option 2: Go to court and let the corporate lawyers of MH use the money to put them thru costly litigation that could likely have W6 end up closing their door.
    Option 3: Go public to bring to light what is going on and hopefully public opinion will cause MH to compromise.

    So...what option do you take??????
  28. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    So explain to me how nine pound porter from Georgetown brewing infringed on their logo. They are bullies, plain and simple, with bigger corporate dollars behind them.
  29. woosterbill

    woosterbill Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    Option 4: Follow through on the reasonable compromise that they themselves originally suggested, and that MH seemed completely willing to accept before W6 reneged.
    kingcrowing and JG-90 like this.
  30. woosterbill

    woosterbill Apr 6, 2009 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    They'd already trademarked the number 9 and the pound sign for all purposes related to selling beer. Therefore, they had not choice but to defend that trademark when another brewer tried to make a beer named after the specific things they had trademarked.

    Not evil, just business.

    And once again, I'm not a fan of Magic Hat's beer or business. I just don't think there's anything wrong with protecting trademarks, because failure to do so once can mean the trademark is lost forever.
    JG-90 and chimneyjim like this.
  31. MGambleWWS

    MGambleWWS Nov 12, 2007 Massachusetts

    They are within their legal rights to defend their trademarks wherever they see fit. I honestly don't feel bad for a company that can't afford to defend itself in court. If you start a business in America and market products with logos, you are potentially opening yourself up to litigation for trademark infringements. It's on YOU to make sure that you aren't infringing and if you don't do your homework or don't understand how trademarks work, then you have set yourself up for failure. Just because a business is small doesn't grant it protections to use other peoples trademarks and it only takes 1 phone call to find out how much it costs to defend yourself in court if you infringe. You can spend a little money up front and have all of your stuff double checked by a competent IP lawyer to mitigate your chances of infringing, something that both West 6th and Georgetown may have wanted to do, or you can just throw it out there and hope no one sues you, but the choice is YOURS, and the blame lies on YOU if you infringe.

    Like I said before, if I used one of your trademarks to sell my products, would you give up the mark or bring me to court? What makes Magic Hat any different?
    Jason likes this.
  32. Volntitan

    Volntitan May 18, 2008 Tennessee

    Actually it was MH that reneged by bringing the lawsuit. There was compromises that were made and then 3 months later, MH files a lawsuit.
    LambicPentameter likes this.
  33. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Jul 16, 2005 Connecticut

  34. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    So the number 9 is theirs now and forever? There is nothing similar in the Georgetown and Magic Hat logo appearance.

    Why waste time and money fighting in court when you could just brew more good beer?

    Collaboration, not litigation. Magic Hat are douchebags.
  35. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Jul 18, 2012 Washington

    Not to mention, thinking this is a good thing is a horrible example of beer advocacy.
  36. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    There is a chasm of difference between flipping an identical trademark upside down and using it with different colors and observing that when one trademark is flipped upside down, there are some similar-looking elements with another trademark.

    You say this:

    You could configure the West 6th logo a million different ways using the same elements and not have it look exactly like the Magic Hat's logo when flipped over

    And I can't do anything but shake my head and wonder what you're talking about. When flipped over, there are some SIMILAR looking ELEMENTS. Calling those two things "exactly" alike is so absurd that I can't even find the words to explain how absurd it is.

    I agree that MH had the right (and obligation) to defend it's trademarks from infringement. The problem is that this is not an infringement except in the most liberal interpretation of trademark infringement.
  37. FanofHefe

    FanofHefe Feb 13, 2010 Illinois

    Actually 3+1+2 = 6. So, West Sixth better watch out for ABInbev's lawyers next!
    DelMontiac and Volntitan like this.
  38. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    Not that I care, but West 6th had to approve and authorize the design it no matter what firm they used. In the end, it's the attorney's that come out on top...just like they always do.
  39. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    As of the last letter, West Sixth had agreed to do 3 of Magic Hat's 4 demands. Three months then passed before a lawsuit was filed. The only source that is touting the "West Sixth reneged" angle is the PR firm that Magic Hat hired after seeing the petition that West Sixth released in response to the lawsuit. And the Magic Hat brand manager. West Sixth has even since directly responded to the PR article that Magic Hat released.

    I have to ask: did you read the exchange of letters between the two legal teams. Because in those letters, it's awfully hard to find support for the idea that West Sixth suddenly about-faced on compromises that they had proposed.
  40. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Yup...I noticed that West 6th reneged on their earlier concession/agreement too. Bad faith negotiations on West Sixth's part.

    My Prediction: There will be no day in court. Within a week, or maybe even two, West 6th will give in and redesign the logo, but they will make the most of the free media coverage until then. Both companies will continue selling beer. West 6th will briefly not be able to keep up with demand as people purchase their beer in support or out of curiousity because they heard the name for the first time on the Facebook/Twitter/forums/TV/radio. In a few more weeks no one will remember or even care about this, except for a very small minority of craft beer geeks, most of whom were probably not buying Magic Hat products prior to this event anyway.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!