An entertaining showdown is brewing between Magic Hat and Sixth West over a beer label that might be a little too similar. Can’t we all just get so drunk we forget trademark law ever happened? Apparently not.
Magic Hat filed a lawsuit against Six West Brewing Co. for trademark infringement based on the logo for Magic Hat #9. Decide if you think there’s a case before reading on the the bitch fight below.
The public battle started with Six West Brewing creating a petition to tell the big bad Magic Hat to back off. In it they tout their sales and charitable donations as reasoning why a big brewery would see them as an enemy. They go on to say this about the lawsuit.
Now, we all know that their claims are just a little bit silly:
- Our logos were professionally designed by a designer in Lexington called Cricket Press who has a long history of fantastic and creative logo designs.
- Their federal trademark is simply for the text “# 9”, and our logo contains neither a “#” nor a “9”. (our favorite part of their argument is where they call a 6 an “inverted 9”. Yeah, and did you know that a “p” is just an inverted “d”? They’re totally the same letter!)
- Finally, our logo includes the words “West Sixth Brewing”. We think that makes it pretty clear.
That’s certainly nice and snarky. They also go on to say that the hiring of a law firm in New York means they know the case has no merit. Really? Is this a Pace Picante commercial? New York City???
On the other side of the fermenter you have Magic Hats response. They point out West Sixth desire to paint this as little brewer vs bigger brewer and not a matter of law. They also claim that talks for West Sixth to change their logo had been ongoing and this was a social media ambush.
Talks between the two breweries started in September of 2012 after marketplace concerns surfaced by a Kentucky wholesaler who refused to carry West Sixth Brewing because he felt it too closely resembled Magic Hat, which he already distributed.
I have no way of knowing if that story is true or not, but if so it’s pretty damning evidence that the labels are too similar. It may not be a ‘#’ or a ‘9,’ but this isn’t some dumb drunk consumer that think they look the same. It’s a professional beer salesman. Magic Hat goes on to say that West Sixth had actually agreed to make changes but backed out and went the smear route instead.
In letters proposing a resolution to avoid a court case, West Sixth Brewing agreed to:
- Remove the design element that mirrors Magic Hat’s #9 starburst/dingbat star packaging;
- Use and promote the wording West Sixth Brewing in conjunction with the design (Magic Hat agrees that this will help eliminate confusion);
- Work in good faith to phase out and replace any existing materials that may contain the prior version of the encircled “6” design;
- Amend its current federal trademark application or re-file the application with the new design.
That’s where we stand right now. The bitch fight is only a couple of days old now, so it’s sure to get even better in the coming weeks. Let the battle of he-said/she-said for public opinion begin!
I’m leaning towards Magic Hat as being in the right here, with the wrench in the canning line being the use of a stylized 8-point star. You can read the full arguments/slam sessions here for West Sixth and here for Magic Hat.
Tip of the mug to @KThorJensen for alerting me to Friday Night Sissy Fights.