News West Sixth Alters Logo as Lawsuit with Magic Hat is Settled

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by BorisKarloff, Jun 6, 2013.

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  1. sudsellier

    sudsellier Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2009 Florida

    Just kidding, btw. I know what you mean.
  2. JMagee

    JMagee Initiate (152) Jan 2, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    It's all good. I've just been following this thread and the more I read about how evil MH was in all this and how poor little W6th was raked over the coals.

    Needless to say, I now know of several people who are dropping their purchased amounts of Magic Hat products from "none" to "less than none" just to stick it to MH. And to say they are now boycotting them.
  3. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    When a company is owned by a conglomerate they can still be brewed somewhere else. But they are a part of that conglomerate. Being part of a conglomerate is not really what craft beer is about imo. Sure they brew in VT and NY but they aren't doing anything special to be pro-vermont or pro-anything.
  4. BeerBeast

    BeerBeast Defender (699) Oct 9, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Best post of this thread!
  5. BeerBeast

    BeerBeast Defender (699) Oct 9, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Someone from Vermont might disagree with that statement, in fact they already did earlier in this thread!
  6. ShogoKawada

    ShogoKawada Meyvn (1,247) May 31, 2009 Pennsylvania


    good. hire better designers next time.
  7. neophilus

    neophilus Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    That release sounds like a scolded child who is being made to apologize to someone.
    Sarlacc83 and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  8. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,422) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

    Are you kidding me? They've held a Mardi Gras parade for years and they've always donated the proceeds from that to local organizations in need. They also throw a few celebrations at the brewery from time to time featuring local bands, etc.

    Say all that you want about their beer lineup but I do believe that Magic Hat helps people take the step from drinking adjunct lagers to craft beer. When I first started drinking craft beer in 2002, I used to buy 12 packs and growlers of Magic Hat, along with Long Trail and Rock Art as well. I cut my teeth on these beers and I'm sure others are doing the same.

    The only thing I really don't like about Magic Hat is the foreign ownership and the fact that they constantly ax their best beers, only to bring them back as one-offs. I'm also not a fan of the culture there, which seems to revolve more around music than beer itself. I would still love to work there as it would be quite a short walk and I have always wanted to work for a brewery, regardless of what part of VT it's in.
  9. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Disciple (357) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    With his fingers crossed behind his back and a grin on his face because he got what he wanted.
  10. surfcaster

    surfcaster Champion (821) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    If this change was needed, I am glad that it will more difficult for people to accidentally get a Magic Hat anything--esp number 9.:confused:
  11. Vitacca

    Vitacca Disciple (363) Sep 15, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    6. Sue me now!
  12. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    Why do they help people get into craft beer? Maybe it was just you, didn't happen for me.
  13. Groomsy

    Groomsy Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2010 Kentucky

    I'm glad the thing is settled. I was on W6's side through the whole thing, but I think it got pretty ugly from both sides, and I'm glad that the bickering has come to an end. Best regards to each company, though I think there's at least some damage control to be done from both sides.
  14. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (508) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    If you pay attention to the threads that ask what your first craft beer was, you'll find a significant number of people who say #9 their first craft beer. Your results may vary.
    jamesewelch, BeerBeast and Roguer like this.
  15. StylzMC

    StylzMC Initiate (0) Dec 15, 2012 Yukon (Canada)

    And maybe that's just you. If you're from the area, it was most likely one of your first craft beers. Same can be said for a lot of areas and breweries. You might need glasses from because youre a bit short sighted.
    Roguer likes this.
  16. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (3,003) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    That's a good point. I have planned on adjusting my purchases thusly:

    -No more Magic Hat. Of course, Magic Hat solved that for me the last time I bought a 6er of #9, and it sucked donkey nuts.

    -No more West 6th, either! I don't live in Kentucky, so that wasn't a problem to begin with.

    I am therefore ascribing to your "none" to "less than none" adjustment. I wasn't going to by any of their beer today; now I'm not going to do it tomorrow, either!
  17. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (3,003) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    Wait what? "Independent to the Core" means "Until we get a better offer?" Meh; maybe it'll be better now. My favorite cider is from Ireland (Kelly's), even though it's impossible to find up here.
  18. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    I would guarantee prob about 0.01 people would say this.
  19. jaxon53

    jaxon53 Meyvn (1,041) Mar 1, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    What the hell is an inverted nine? Us poor, uneducated peoples up here in the backwoods of Connecticut think of them as sixes! Golllllllllllyyyyyy! Really, you have to be a real asshole to confuse these labels...
  20. jaxon53

    jaxon53 Meyvn (1,041) Mar 1, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    If anything, we should sue Magic Hat for making all of that shitty beer! And for retiring any decent beers they have ever brewed.
  21. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,422) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

    Because you're in Wisconsin, not Vermont?

    They weren't the only brewery either. I did mention Rock Art and I should also mention Otter Creek and Long Trail as well.
  22. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,422) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

    celfan seems to get off on being an asshole that likes to bash VT. Woodchuck has nothing to do with Magic Hat.
  23. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Based on what? Your long history of being an intellectual property defense attorney?

    Your opinion seems to be contrary to that of the practicing, licensed IP attorney who was hired by, and advises West Sixth.

    That guy or girl saw it quite differently, and for good reason: West Sixth would have gotten their ass handed to them so hard in court (on the IP issue), it could have resulted in the brewery ceasing operations.

    I'm amazed by the willingness of people to chime in with their opinions on this rather complex matter: Our geekery over beer is a hindrance to understanding the likelihood of confusion issue.
    chimneyjim likes this.
  24. opwog

    opwog Defender (663) Jun 16, 2008 Minnesota

    There is no way that somebody along the way hadn't been looking at #9 as a guide for this West Sixth logo, even way beyond the star. If it was just the designer and nobody at the brewery had any idea who Magic Hat were (hard to believe), then the brewery was just guilty of not doing their own due diligence of just doing a google image search for the words "craft beer cans," where #9 comes up in the top 10% of the very first page. But I look at the average reviews for this brewery and to me, my bet is that this was an intentional marketing of the beer to mislead gateway craft drinkers who would easily look at the West Sixth logo and presume that it was related to #9. Many Newbies don't get the difference between a beer and the brewery (I am sure that many people may think that #9 is a brewery). I would say that they got off easy just removing the compass star.
  25. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,484) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Trademark disputes are notoriously based on perception and subjective opinion, so the idea that an IP lawyer knows how a judge would rule in this scenario as a matter of course is silly. If West Sixth's lawyer felt that West Sixth would lose based on the fact that they decided to settle, then what does that infer about Magic Hat's lawyer, given that Magic Hat sure gave up a lot of their original demands to concede to West Sixth, who, apparently believed that they could not win a ruling. More on that in a bit...

    There are many reasons why West Sixth may not have wanted to take this all the way to a ruling that have nothing to do with how they feel the judge would have ruled. For starters, the cost to get a ruling, even if it favored them, may have been prohibitive to their resources, being a small brewery. Expanding on that, there is also the cost/benefit analysis about the cost of pursuing it vs. the benefit they would see even if they had everything go in their favor. As we can now see by the settlement, the only thing West Sixth would have gained by taking this all the way to a ruling would be the inclusion of the tiny starburst/compass graphic.

    And this brings us back to the expert opinion of Magic Hat's lawyer. The final settlement ends up with Magic Hat walking away from the bulk of what they originally deemed necessary to resolve this dispute. This, to me, suggests that Magic Hat's practicing, licensed IP attorney thought that Magic Hat was not in a good position to win those demands in the eyes of a judge and thought they were better of taking the smallest of changes to West Sixth's logo than pursuing it further.

    I don't claim to be an expert in copyright law, but I do know a tiny bit about it. Enough to be able to form a rational opinion and share it. At the end of the day, this is a dispute about whether or not two logos look similar enough for there to be consumer confusion at the point of purchase. While the law governing these types of disputes may be complex, the heart of it--does A look like B to the point of confusion amongst the likely target consumers--is a fairly simple notion, even if individual perception makes it harder to arrive at an objective answer (except via a judge's opinion, which is about as objective as one can get in this type of situation).
  26. Brenden

    Brenden Poo-Bah (3,803) Feb 25, 2008 Ohio
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    It's lucky they did that, though. I was super confused about which was which. How could anyone have been able to tell them apart? It could have been one of Hercules' impossible tasks...the one he would have failed.
  27. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    Silly? Anything but. Experience counts. Experience also would lead one to recite the correct legal standard (eight factors generally), rather than the incorrect one like you did. And sure, the eight factors to be analyzed have perceptions and subjectiveness built into them, but generally an experienced IP litigator will have a better objective opinion about how those are going to be construed by a judge he practices in front of, moreso than a layperson. And that is why West Sixth paid someone with knowledge, to tell them to "repent" (settlement) rather than the suggestions of a uninformed layperson by comparison.

    You don't understand negotiations/C&D letters in this context. You demand everything in the world, but really all it takes is just one concession and your trademark is protected and cannot be deemed abandoned. Magic Hat: 1) protected their trademark 2) got the apology letter; for 3) minimal cost.
    Even with that said, it isn't a win/lose black/white thing. For example:
    West Sixth: 1) got people to know they exist; for 2) minimal cost

    You stayed in a Holiday Inn last night?

    Seriously though, do you even lift law books bro? :wink:
    Ranbot, BeerBeast and woosterbill like this.
  28. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (3,003) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    I know they're unrelated; I had no idea they were sold, unless he was making a joke.
  29. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Disciple (357) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    I think you, Beerandraiderdfan, might be missing, or at least talking past, the point that Lambic makes: What Magic Hat "won" is an insignificant part of what it sought, and what West 6th kept was the majority of what it started with, and Magic Hat had the resources to take this to the limit, and West 6th didn't.

    Your explanation, that he doesn't understand negotiations/C&D letters, is a paraphrase of, oh Magic Hat didn't really believe all that, or mean it or want it...but do you really believe that the only thing MH wanted, going in, was the removal of the compass/star? The subsequent correspondence seems to belie that belief.

    That it worked out as it did, in the hands of two apparently competent IP lawyers,seems indicative of the weakness of Magic Hat's case in the eyes of its own attorney.

    Oh and isn't it true that West 6th also 1) protected its trademark 2) for minimal cost, if you're trying to tot up the winners and losers here? I mean I think they got a little bit more than just publicity out of the deal, no?

    PS while Lambic may not be "an expert in copyright law" he clearly has lifted a "law book" (probably his/her notebook or tablet, these days) or two in his day, don't you think?

    Thinking through this before hitting "Post Reply", let me ask you another question, the answer to which may be the only thing that might justify the expense and the image beating MH took in this case. Do you believe that, down the road, a subsequent clearer infringer of MH's #9 trademark could/would have successfully used Magic Hat's inaction in this case--had they done nothing--as evidence of abandonment? I guess if the answer to that is yes, then MH just did what they had to do. But that almost seems to mean that you've got to patrol the world, looking for ambiguous and questionably confusion-creating marks, to send cease and desist letters to, and then sue, or else lose your trademark..."if the law supposes that, the law is a ass," as Mr. Bumble put it.
    visualmartyr and rlcoffey like this.
  30. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,484) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Yes, experience counts, and I exaggerated for effect to point out that there are enough subjective factors at work to make it even an educated guess for people who are in the business and have a great deal of familiarity with the law. In hindsight, probably note the best way to respond. I'm clearly a layperson and have less insight as to the likely outcome of the case had it gone to decision, I'm merely noting that the fact that it was settled doesn't inherently prove that a judge would have ruled in Magic Hat's favor on the logo dispute.

    I did know that there are more factors at play than just Likelihood of Confusion, and when I've discussed this on previous threads, I mentioned some of those other factors, but didn't want to get into it here. I'm not an expert, but I have tried to read a little from time to time because logo/branding is germane to the industry I do work in (advertising).

    I understand, on a very basic level, how the negotiations work. I realize that Magic Hat conceding to such a minimal change was probably their goal all along, just to defend the trademark. But the fact that they succeeded at their plan doesn't necessarily indicate that a judge would have agreed with their original claim in the lawsuit--that West Sixth was infringing on their #9 trademark--had it gone to decision. It also seems like West Sixth's foray into the social media war harmed their bargaining position, because the original suit over the logo was amended to include defamation. Even if the logo infringement had gone their way, there was little chance that they'd avoid the defamation claim.

    I certainly hope no one has been reading my input as some kind of legal expertise. All I've tried to do is share an opinion from the limited knowledge of and interest in the subject. It's all been completely speculative.
    woosterbill and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  31. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    Then maybe magic hat isn't the first craft beer EVERYONE tries.
  32. Beerandraiderfan

    Beerandraiderfan Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2009 Nevada

    I disagree.

    This is why.
    woosterbill likes this.
  33. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Your own statement is a clear indication that you do not understand the function of the initial C&D or demand letter in litigation. The purpose is not to present a fair representation of agreeable terms or what you think you can win. You throw in everything and let the flimsy stuff go to get down to what you really want. Magic Hat didn't need all the changes. It just needed one. Whether a judge would have bought each and every one of the original claims is irrelevant. It is extremely rare that any plaintiff ever prevails on every cause of action alleged.

    Litigation strategy is cost benefit analysis not determining who is right and wrong or winners and losers. People who strategize litigation based on those other analyses almost always lose. See West Sixth.
    Beerandraiderfan likes this.
  34. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (508) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    No one in this thread besides you has said, or even inferred, that Magic Hat is the first craft beer for "everyone."

    ....and I'm done feeding the troll.
    Brad007 likes this.
  35. crossovert

    crossovert Initiate (0) Mar 29, 2009 Illinois

    Yes, it has. I am not trolling lol.
  36. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Aspirant (217) Feb 20, 2013 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Bleh, magic hat
  37. Brad007

    Brad007 Poo-Bah (3,422) Mar 28, 2007 Vermont

    And nothing of value was added...
  38. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    I'll second Magic Hat being a bridge beer between mass-produced stuff to craft. Harpoon and Sierra Nevada often serve the same purpose, especially in their own regions. This doesn't prevent any of the three from making decent beer along with competent but now-mediocre main line. With their cash influx, Goose Island now appears to be doing the same -- they are separating their "bread-and-butter" lines from craft lines that BA people go gaga over. Boston/Sam Adams has been doing this for years and they are still resented by some craft fans. It seems every time a small brewer becomes a success story and either becomes affiliated with a conglomerate or carves its own national niche it leaves resentment here. Frankly, I don't understand all the resentment. It's like the old hippie slogan "Don't trust anyone over 30" has become "over 40", then "over 50" and now "over 70". The main point is what's in the bottle and not who puts it on the table. If they become "evil" along the way, that's a different story. But that's not the case with any of the "mid-majors", to borrow a phrase from college basketball. All contribute to craft beer culture and are generally supportive of other breweries. This does not mean that copyrights and trademarks should be ignored. MH had a legitimate case and it was settled without (much) bloodshed. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery (how many brewers are copying styles that a single brewery makes popular?), but there are limits. And SW really should have hired a better designer!
    jamesewelch and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  39. kdb150

    kdb150 Zealot (501) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    The short answer is that you can lose your rights to assert your trademark in court if you don't take active steps to defend it from infringers. A large measure of a trademark's worth is the lengths to which the trademark owner goes to protect it.

    It might seem frivolous to you, but trademark protection is almost never frivolous. There are much greater considerations made than someone at Magic Hat thinking, "Hey, that looks a little like our #9 logo upside down, let's sue!" And typically when a company, especially a small and relatively new one, is asked to make minor changes, they are willing to comply, partly because they want the same consideration down the line. The fact that a lawsuit was filed points to coloswsal dickheadery on the part of the West Sixth people.

    And beeradvocates of all people, what with the constant griping about "crafty" labels concealing the ownership of things like Shock Top and Third Shift, should be sympathetic to the idea that just because a label has a different company name in no way precludes a consumer concluding it comes from the same parent company.
  40. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Sounds like you've been involved with one of these. Or more.
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