12 Oct 2009 @ 12:19 PM 
 

Fighting the Corporate Monster. Vermonster vs. Monster.

 

Crap. I’d better be careful. Using the word “Monster” in a titular way might get me in trouble!

Le sigh.


In case you haven’t seen the news flipping around the internets over the past couple days, there’s another ridiculous lawsuit making the rounds.

This time, Hansen’s Beverage, the marketers and distributors of Monster Energy Drink have issued a cease and desist order to Rock Art Brewery in Vermont, informing them that they must change the name of their beer Vermonster because it will “undoubtedly create a likelihood of confusion and/or dilute the distinctive quality of Hansen’s MONSTER marks.” (from the Rutland Herald)

I’m not a copyright lawyer – I don’t even play one on TV – but I don’t think Hansen’s has even a shred of a case here. Unfortunately, Rock Art has a big battle in front of them, anyway. Why? Because we’re talking small craft brewery with limited resources vs. Giant Corporate Entities (TM). The easiest thing for Rock Art to do is to change the name. No money involved, right? Oh, except for re-branding the beer line that they’ve been brewing for a decade or more, getting new labels approved and printed, new tap handles, new packaging, etc. Hardly any work or cost, right? I mean. That’s like… overnight. Or months. Whatever.

It surprises me that we haven’t heard anything about the other “Monster” branded beers out there. It’s not all that hard to get a list on Beer Advocate of Monster-related beers (and note, Vermonster is not on there because I only searched for ‘Monster.’), can we assume that they also got cease & desist letters? And if they didn’t, then WTF?

Why is Rock Art being picked on? It doesn’t make any sense to me. If other breweries have gotten this cease and desist, I hope they choose to come forward and fight this with Rock Art.

Finally – who in their right mind would confuse Vermonster – a barleywine, sold in glass bombers – with Monster Energy Drink – a Red Bull knockoff, sold in giant cans? Their packaging and branding isn’t even remotely similar. I mean, in Bud Light Lime vs. Red Baron Light Lime you could see what they were talking about. This is just wrong.

Well, according to the article I referenced above, Hansen’s lawyer let slip to Matt Nadeau (nice French Canadian name there, by the way – solidarity! Yeah!), Rock Art’s owner, that they’re looking at getting into the beer market. Greeeaaat. More shitty beer.

So, this is how it apparently runs:

We have a brand named X. We would like to expand our brand X to include other products, so we will now summarily bully people out of our potential namespace, even though they have inhabited it for years before our brand X existed.

Asshats.

There’s a boycott of Hansen’s products going on in Vermont right now because of this ridiculous lawsuit, and it’d be great to see that expand. The sheer ridiculousness of this lawsuit should be addressed on a consumer level before it has the chance to cost Rock Art scads of money in court.

If I ever had the inclination to drink one of those godforsaken energy drinks, I would stop myself. Fortunately, I own taste buds.

Tags Tags: , , , ,
Categories: brewery, industry, marketing, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 12 Oct 2009 @ 02 07 PM

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Responses to this post » (7 Total)

 
  1. K says:

    “If I ever had the inclination to drink one of those godforsaken energy drinks, I would stop myself. Fortunately, I own taste buds.”

    Word. Do they really think their customer base crosses over often?

    I don’t understand much about cease and desist stuff — does this mean it’s actually gotten past a judge, rather than having a judge throw it out for absurdity before poor Rock Art has to be out all that time and cash?

  2. erik says:

    Well, there are cease and desist letters and cease and desist orders. Orders are issued by judges. Letters are threats of legal action.

    This is a letter, so technically no money has changed hands except for where Rock Art probably brought it to their lawyer in a “dear god what does this mean” meeting.

    Whether or not Hansen’s will actually follow through with this absurdity is the question right now. Rock Art can basically do nothing except try to garner support in the court of public opinion – unless there has actually been a lawsuit filed that I am unaware of.

  3. christopher says:

    Not that it really needs to be said but “Vermonster” was first coined by Ben & Jerry’s for their ridiculous sundae (unless there is an older Vermonster that I don’t know about). I didn’t like Rock Art’s Vermonster as much as its little sibling Ridge Runner but I’d take it over anything Monster is likely to churn out.

  4. Al says:

    Asshats is right. I wouldn’t go near an energy drink, but let me know if there is anything else I could boycott. This is ridiculous.

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