Sonic Drive-In Sends Cease and Desist Letter to Wiley Roots Brewing Company

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,648) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew

    GREELEY, CO - Wiley Roots Brewing Company received a letter from Crowe & Dunlevy Attorneys and Counselors at Law, the firm that represents Sonic Corporation and its related entities, including America's Drive-In Brand Properties LLC, over trademark infringement including the Sonic “Double Delta Logo” and “Route 44” branding the brewery has been spoofing for their Slush series, a popular series of fruited sour beers inspired by classic drive-in slushes.

    In March 2019, Wiley Roots announced that they were refreshing the graphic design for the series to include certain brand elements that may strayed from parody to infringement as part of their relaunch of the seasonal Slush series starting April 12-14, 2019. In a post on the brewery’s Facebook and Instagram, Wiley Roots announced that they were “kicking off our Summer-of-Slush with the inaugural Weekend Slush Party with the opening of the brewery’s patio, complete with on-site only variants, to-go variants, three frozen slushy machines, patio activities, and a special food menu” which included mock-up photos of the new packaging.

    After receiving the three page letter, Wiley Roots issued a three paragraph response to the legal team at Crowe & Dunlevy notifying them of their decision to rebrand the beer series once again. In the response, the brewery stated that they will comply with the cease and desist letter by removing all references to their muse including likenesses to Sonic’s trademarks (including the Double Delta Logo and Route 44 marks) from their products, the website, and all social media accounts. In response to the letter, co-owner and head brewer, Kyle Carbaugh, said: “We completely understand where they [Sonic] are coming from. What initially started off as a bit of an inside joke at the brewery gained far more momentum than we had ever anticipated. Once we saw the trending popularity of this series, we figured it would only be a matter of time before the inside joke grew beyond its means and would require rebranding. We’re still huge fans of Sonic and will continue to frequent their restaurants.“

    Although the brewery hoped to use the branding as a way to communicate that the flavors were inspired by their favorite drive-in slushies, the owners understand how important trademarks and intellectual property are and they do not wish to confuse customers with similar branding. The new branding will now pay tribute to their original slushy machine that they used last year to serve Slush as a frozen beer.

    By complying with the requests made in the letter, Sonic will allow the brewery to phase-out current products, including a limited number of drink tumblers and drive-in inspired stickers. Since the letter arrived before labels were printed for the relaunch of Slush, the brewery has confirmed that they will be releasing cans of Slush with the new branding, excluding all imagery identified in the letter. Starting on April 12-14, 2019 at 12pm, Wiley Roots will release cans of Purple Slush, Blue Slush, and Raspberry Limeade Slush with on-site only variants of Real Dill Slush, Frozen Double Cherry Limeade Slush, Frozen Slusholada, and Frozen Slusharita. They will also be releasing Local Beer, a German-Style Helles Lager, and Deck Shoes, a Mai Tai Milkshake Sour IPA during the event. To add a final touch to the release, Wiley Roots has teamed up with Wing Shack to sell corn dogs over the weekend’s release, a nod to Sonic’s famous corn dogs.

    When Wiley Roots originally launched this series last year, they hoped that it would be popular, but never expected the beer to become a national hit. The owners admit that receiving a cease and desist letter from Sonic is a “big deal” and that they intend to frame the letter in the taproom, saying that: “Sonic is still one of our favorite drive-ins and we are happy that this issue was resolved amicably. We will continue to sell Slush, but with new brand imagery. Sonic is the original summer drink stop and we are thankful for their influence on this beer series.”

    About Wiley Roots Brewing Company
    Wiley Roots Brewing Company believes beer should be unique, crafted from the highest quality ingredients, and brewed with a sense of responsibility to the craft and to the surrounding community. We believe that brewing craft beer is an art and that it should be grounded in the core values of honesty, integrity, hard work, and the belief in one’s ability to create and share. We are a small, independently owned brewery with a unique focus on mixed-culture, barrel aged, and spontaneous beers in downtown Greeley, Colorado. Our beers have been awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival in 2018 (Silver), 2017 (Gold), 2015 (Gold), 2013 (Bronze), and 2017 (Silver) at the Mazer Cup International. Wiley Roots Brewing Company was founded by Kyle Carbaugh and Miranda Carbaugh and opened in the summer of 2013.

  2. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (114) Mar 15, 2014 California

    This was bound to happen to one of these breweries eventually. Not long now before others get hit.
  3. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,511) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Yeah... this is pretty blatant:
  4. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Devotee (450) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Great beer and great people!
  5. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (266) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

  6. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Defender (636) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    Hmmm. I wonder if this was all a publicity stunt. Infringe on large company to get guaranteed cease and desist, apologize publicly and get free national news name recognition.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,825) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Happens pretty regularly - this forum's full of these trademark disputes.

    And dates back to the beginning of the "Craft Era":
    #6 jesskidden, Apr 4, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
    Bitterbill and beertunes like this.
  8. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (114) Mar 15, 2014 California

    Oh no, i know i just meant recently a huge stream of breweries have been "paying homage" to a lot of things with very little recourse. Usually its brewery against brewery. you'd thing you'd see a lot more than you do now.
    JayWhitson likes this.
  9. JayWhitson

    JayWhitson Champion (851) Feb 25, 2015 Montana
    Society Trader

    They only used that logo for the slush series an an homage. They do have a distinct mouthfeel very reminiscent of the last slurp of a melted slushy.

    It’s a small brewery with a small distribution that has strummed up a pretty nice cult following. They are walking distance from Weldwerks. Everyone there was extremely friendly and will make sure to go every year we visit.
    Ispeakforthetrees likes this.
  10. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (491) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    Yup... a step beyond the upside-down 9
    Ranbot likes this.
  11. shand

    shand Meyvn (1,411) Jul 13, 2010 Florida

    A ton of breweries do it now, and I'm sick of it. Make the beer stand on its own merits instead of someone else's brand.
  12. beeeeeeeeeeeer

    beeeeeeeeeeeer Initiate (56) Jul 3, 2010 Colorado

    They're just kettle sours.
    Ispeakforthetrees likes this.
  13. Ispeakforthetrees

    Ispeakforthetrees Disciple (323) Apr 2, 2012 Colorado

    You're a kettle sour

    Just kidding! I loved working for those guys. Bummed this series has ran it's course.
    JayWhitson likes this.
  14. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (868) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    It's probably not planned from the start, but if the opportunity for free media attention arises they don't avoid it either. The brewer said as much themselves...

    HouseofWortship likes this.
  15. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (960) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Damned coyotes, popping up everywhere these days. Maybe the two brainiacs in the car delivered the C&D.
    MNAle likes this.
  16. oldbean

    oldbean Disciple (335) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    Honestly if this was the plan, I kind of love it.