Lagunitas sues Sierra Nevada over "trademark infringement" of words IPA on packaging

Discussion in 'Beer News' started by BottleCaps80, Jan 13, 2015.

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  1. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa

    Lagunitas is claiming it trademarks the words "IPA" on their beers and Sierra Nevada's new Hop Hunter IPA packaging cannot contain the words IPA on it, because they have a trademark over those letters.

    This shit is getting out of hand. Lagunitas is so paranoid that the words IPA on some packaging are going to cut into their sales of their IPA. How about craft breweries focus on making great beer instead of focusing on frivolous lawsuits against their brethren.

    Laguintas does NOT own the words IPA. They trademark a logo with the words IPA on them, but do not own a trademark for the words IPA themselves. They cannot and should not be able to sue Sierra Nevada over this. Sounds like this could ultimately delay the release of Hop Hunter IPA while this is tied up in court, unless SN folds and changes their label so they can get this beer out on targeted release date.

    Sad, as this has seemingly NEVER been an issue with Lagunitas and other breweries boldly featuring the words IPA on their label.

    Lagunitas just lost a LOT of respect from me due to this. I'll likely buy more SN over Lagunitas now, just to speak with my wallet.

  2. AOTP

    AOTP Initiate (0) Aug 14, 2014 New York

    Shameful. I could understand it if it was a brewery or beer name that was in question, but to trademark the use of three letters that represent an entire style of beer is absurd.
  3. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    Sierra Nevada could always choose to launch the beer at risk. Without an injunction there isn't anything to stop them from launching..

    Thanks for posting - this sort of thing makes me pretty mad as it is not within the spirit of craft beer. having IPA in block capitals on the label as a trademark is utter crap - I am not buying Lagunitas anymore - just too douchy!

    On the other hand, hop hunter is coming home with me as soon as I see it on a store shelf!
  4. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    It isn't the letters themselves they are claiming as a trademark - it is the font, placement on the label and style of the design etc...
  5. bulldogbrewhaus

    bulldogbrewhaus Initiate (0) Sep 17, 2012 Virginia

    Is this not the same brewery that threw a fit and ranted all over the internet when Sweetwater C&Ded them over 420? What gives Lagunitas?
    Loganyoung, Mavajo, cjgiant and 16 others like this.
  6. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa

    My initial speculation is that this isn't over the words IPA, it's to stall the release of Hop Hunter IPA, which is the first production beer to use a new steam extraction method on hops to create a "fresh hop" beer profile. Laguinitas feels threatened by this new technique that SN has gone to create this beer and are trying to delay it until they figure something similar out. Shameful indeed. Makes they look like whiny cry-babies.
  7. gatheredwaters

    gatheredwaters Initiate (0) May 1, 2014 Vermont

    Where are you reading "IPA"?

    All I see is "Distilled Hop Oil". :grinning:
  8. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa

    THIS! I hope people speak with their wallets and buy more SN product and less Lagunitas product. As you stated, this is not in the spirit of craft beer. Lagunitas just further alienating themselves from the rest.
  9. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    I wonder if they will also sue Stone:

    Block capital serif font. No periods between the letters. Central in the design and a focal point of the label....

    You could probably run around a beer store and make the same comparison to dozens of IPAs
  10. AnalogErik

    AnalogErik Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2013 Minnesota

    Wow - fuck off Lagunitas. Kiss my $ goodbye.

    This is such an abuse of the system. I hope lagunitas guy comes in here an rants, just so it can be used against his dumb ass in court.
  11. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    The problem with trademarks is that if you do not defend them, you lose the right to them. Lagunitas legal obviously thought that the IPA logo (which does happen to be eerily similar to Lagunitas') could be a trademark infringement. If they chose not to take action, someone in the future could copy their exact logo and site Sierra Nevada's logo as an example that Lagunitas does not own the trademark.
  12. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa

    Exactly. This isn't some new use of the words IPA on a label. As previously noted, I think this has very little to do with the words IPA and more to do with stalling the release of this beer, because they are threatened by the new hop oil extraction technique used.
    Scrapss likes this.
  13. halo3one

    halo3one Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2014 Georgia

    I'll pass on Lagunitas.
    Lucnifter likes this.
  14. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    It is unlikely that they are doing this because they want money. They are doing this because they are legally required to protect their trademark.
    sarch, MistahBeah, cjgiant and 7 others like this.
  15. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa

    See previous post about Stone IPA logo and use of exact same font and bold lettering with no spaces, commas, periods. etc. Why no defending their trademark there? Or with literally dozens of other breweries with the words IPA on the label of their beer? This isn't about the IPA "trademark."
    BBThunderbolt likes this.
  16. AnalogErik

    AnalogErik Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2013 Minnesota

  17. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    Given that Lagunitas' trademark is of the logo, and not the letters "IPA", their claim (as @pagriley points out) is about the context of Sierra Nevada's use of the letters--font, placement, style.

    But given that, I think this is a pretty big overreach here. They are essentially claiming that they own the trademark on any use of "IPA" when those letters are 1) large and capitalized, 2) in the center of the packaging, and 3) darker than the surrounding background.

    I honestly want to see this one go to court to see how a trademark judge would rule regarding whether or not the Sierra Nevada version is unique enough to avoid infringing on Lagunitas' trademark. Aside from the incredibly generic standard that Lagunitas is asking to be upheld, they are ignoring the fact that the likelihood of confusion between these two packages is extremely low, given the prominent placement of the Sierra Nevada logo as well as the distinct branding look/feel of the Sierra Nevada brand vs. the Lagunitas brand.

    A question for anyone who knows more about trademark law than me--is there a possibility of Lagunitas losing their trademark on the IPA logo by taking this to court if the judge decides that their trademark is too generic?

    It's really a bit sad that a company that has done a pretty amazing job of cultivating a recognizable brand through the use of pretty generic branding would feel the need to sue to protect its brand in this way.
    #17 LambicPentameter, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
  18. jimmypa

    jimmypa Initiate (0) Nov 15, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This isn't the first time Lagunitas has rubbed me the wrong way...way too much douchery from them lately...great beers but nothing I can't live without.

    *edit: Do all of those negatives add up in that last phrase? I'm leaving it!
  19. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    Fair, but they are going to be busy!


    This took me about 2 minutes with google... there are an awful lot of breweries they are going to need to sue...
  20. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    The devil's advocate in me would note that none of the images in that search and the images posted here--not even the Stone packaging--are as close to the Lagunitas packaging as the Sierra Nevada packaging based on the three standards I listed in my initial post.

    Per that initial post on the matter, I still feel this is an overreach, but that image search sorta helps Lagunitas' argument...
  21. Dil_thebeerdrinking_do

    Dil_thebeerdrinking_do Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2014 Georgia

  22. Andrew041180

    Andrew041180 Initiate (0) Mar 15, 2013 Massachusetts

    Nice, winter is over. I didn't realize it was April 1st already.
    hoser, 2beerdogs, skivtjerry and 10 others like this.
  23. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    Because no other brewery has designed a similar 6 pack holder. Sierra Nevada's design is basically a fancied up version of the Lagunitas 6-pack holder.

    You have to remember that it's not about winning or losing in trademark cases. It's about the right to keep your trademark by defending it. Sierra Nevada's logo is close enough, imo, that they need to defend their trademark.
  24. AnalogErik

    AnalogErik Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2013 Minnesota

    Except for the fact that COUNTLESS beers have similar labeling, and it has never come up. Lagunitas, by that logic, lost their right to challenge it a long time ago.
    JackHorzempa and kbuzz like this.
  25. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    This isn't a personal attack. It's a lawyer telling Lagunitas that they have to defend their rights.
  26. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    Please site one example. Stone IPA's logo is not similar at all.
  27. Crackerbarrel

    Crackerbarrel Initiate (0) Feb 10, 2014 New York

    Wow, thats disappointing.

    Anyone who knows craft beer would obviously not be confused by this....

    ...and anyone who doesnt know craft beer would pass on Lagunitas b/c the name's "Lagunitas."
  28. snarygare

    snarygare Initiate (0) Nov 14, 2012 Kansas

    WEAK.. I might have to buy less lagunitas as well..
    kbuzz likes this.
  29. RocketFrogDavid

    RocketFrogDavid Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2010 Virginia

  30. AnalogErik

    AnalogErik Initiate (0) Jul 23, 2013 Minnesota

    Google image search.
  31. AOTP

    AOTP Initiate (0) Aug 14, 2014 New York

    Definitely. I was referring to way in which they are used - not just their inclusion on packaging. The fact that they have objections over the spacing of the letters and lack of periods is just plain silly.
  32. shebby

    shebby Initiate (0) Feb 29, 2012 Utah

    If Lagunitas wants to protect the "distinctive serif font, slightly aged or weathered look, and elimination of periods between the letters" then you would think they would have also gone after Silver Moon Brewing from the above example, in particular. However, I'm guessing it's because Sierra Nevada is a much bigger brand and competing in virtually the same market. To be fair, the SN design and Lagunitas design are relatively similar, but common sense would dictate that they aren't similar enough to confuse a consumer in the store. It would be interesting to see how this plays out...I don't blame Lagunitas for wanting to protect a unique label design, but this one seems a bit of a reach.
  33. gibgink

    gibgink Pooh-Bah (1,581) Oct 27, 2014 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I think @pagriley is correct on this one. It isn't the use of the word IPA, more of the style and presentation of the word itself. That being said however, it is a poor move on Lagunitas part.

    So probably what will happen is the guys at Sierra Nevada will simply change their labeling, even though a rational person would say that there is no copyright infringement in this case. It is cheaper for them to do it that way.

    @sierranevadabill If you guys need a new label for Hop Hunter IPA, I would suggest some type of dalmation-looking dog with a brown collar in a pointing stance next to a pile of hops.
    Roguer, mrgabe, joe12pk and 6 others like this.
  34. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    I disagree. The document posted cites the font, the central placement, the spacing between the P and the A and the weathered look of the lettering. I didn't see anything about dark on light background (might have missed it though). Each of the images I posted share at least some elements of the complaint.

    I would argue that the 1st step IPA label and RPM Label are much closer to the elements they cite (which I agree are extremely broad and vague). The spacing of the P and the A, the weathered look of the letters and the central dominance of the lettering seem to be central points to the trademark.

    I am not a lawyer (I don't even pretend to be one on TV) but to me, it seems very weak indeed...
  35. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    Agreed. I do think Lagunitas is reaching, but Sierra Nevada's certainly is the closest I can think of to their design. Defending trademarks can be tricky. You have to remember that this was brought on by a lawyer and not by the Lagunitas staff.
  36. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Initiate (0) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    It's absolutely about winning/losing if Sierra Nevada decides to let this go to court and put the decision in the hands of a trademark judge. It's just that often, companies don't let it get to that point because of 1) cost, and 2) the fact that once it goes in front of a judge, the companies themselves lose a measure of control over the ultimate outcome.
    maximthegreat likes this.
  37. digga90

    digga90 Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2011 New York

    piss off lagunitas
  38. JDice20

    JDice20 Initiate (0) Aug 14, 2013 Louisiana

    Everyone package up your Lagunitas beer and send to me for a swift and proper demise.


    but srs, i will withhold judgment until i know all facts and details regarding this lawsuit
  39. pagriley

    pagriley Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2014 Illinois

    Succinct and to the point. I like it!
    pjbear05, josmickam and BWM-77 like this.
  40. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois

    You guys also have to remember that both Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada are large craft breweries. They aren't targeting BA users anymore- they're going after the casual craft beer drinking who buys a 6-pack at their local grocery store.
    SmashPants, TylerKitchens and charlzm like this.
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