Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monster vs. Vermonster

The brewing community has been buzzing over a trademark dispute between Monster Energy Drink maker Hansen's Beverages and Rock Art Brewery in Vermont. Rock Art makes a barleywine called 'Vermonster' and when it announced plans to market outside the state Hansen's sent them a cease and desist for using their trademark on "Monster". Apparently, Hansen's has plans to enter to alcoholic beverage market. (Almost undoubtedly with an alcoholic energy drink, the difficulties of which I've commented on before.) Of course, Rock Art was already in the alcoholic beverage market...

It would seem that Rock Art is in the right. There is little risk of confusion or dilution of Hansen's mark. Monster's argument that 'Vermonster' might create the impression that Monster endorsed the use of the mark holds little water. Ben and Jerry's makes a Vermonster Ice Cream (Maple ice cream, roasted pecans and caramel swirl. Mmmm....) and Hansen's is not suing them. (And interestingly, B&J aren't suing Rock Art, in a very Vermont kindof way.) But defending a trademark dispute against a large corporation can bankrupt a small company. Yet owner/brewer Matt Nardeau decided to fight, and angry beer drinkers joined in. Calls for boycotts and angry letters to Hansen's appeared all over. Then Nardeau released this video which has 64,000 views as of 3:00, Oct 21st.

Apparently the parties have reached an amicable agreement, as of today Rock Art is claiming victory on their website.

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The Twentyfirst Amendment Meets the 21st Century by Russell Hews Everett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. The opinions expressed on this page are purely my own, and should not be taken to constitute legal representation or advice.