Beery Trademark Controversies (partially true)

April 1, 2011 at 1:21 am

Tom Keith

April 1, 2011 —  In recent news, Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo Michigan has issued a crease and desist letter to Northern Brewer. Northern Brewer, with stores in St. Paul and Milwaukee, sells supplies for homebrewers, including extract kits to produce homemade versions of well-regarded beers. Bell’s objected to the name of one of those kits, called THREE HEARTED Ale. Meant to be a clone of Bell’s TWO HEARTED Ale, the good folks from Kalamazoo felt the name was a bit too close, and homebrewers might think the clone kit was endorsed by Bell’s.

april beer

In a statement, Bell’s president Larry Bell said, “I know many of you think that Bell’s was heavy handed in our actions. I’m sorry you feel this way.”

Upon reading that statement, Cane Ebel of Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville issued a statement, obtained exclusively by The Local Beet, saying, “ As you know, we’re very proud of our HEAVY HANDED IPA. We are sending a letter to Bell’s insisting they cease and desist from using the term ‘HEAVY HANDED’ in describing their operations, to prevent our customers from associating Bell’s actions with our fine product.”

“We also object to Bell’s use of  ‘TWO HEARTED’ to describe their ale. Here at Two Brothers, each of us brothers has a heart. In fact, just yesterday my generous, caring brother gave a fiver to a sad-looking little ragamuffin on Winfield Road here in Warrenville. Turns out the kid’s Dad was CEO of Navistar International, but that’s beside the point. We each have a heart, so there are TWO HEARTS here. We must be adamant that Bell’s cease and desist claiming exclusive use of ‘TWO HEARTED.’ We don’t want our loyal customers confused.”

In response, Pete Erie, of Erie Brewing in Pennsylvania, issued the following press release “Here at Erie Brewing, our Ol’ Red CEASE AND DESIST Scottish Ale is the anchor of our product line. We must defend our trademark, which is why we object strongly to Bell’s and Two Brothers using the term “CEASE AND DESIST” to describe their beer-related activities. Unless they’re both willing to send us a couple of cases of their beers, that is. Hic.”

Meanwhile, on the way out of his laundry room in San Francisco, Fritz Maytag told us “They can’t say they have an ANCHOR for their product line. My old place was known for its ANCHOR Steam beer.  We don’t want it to be confused with some East Coast joint. Where the hell is Erie, anyway?”

“He’s going around calling it Anchor Steam BEER??? I dreamed up the slogan ‘Schlitz, The BEER that made Milwaukee Famous,’ in 1871. That slogan really lit a fire under our sales.  Or maybe a fire in Chicago did. Anyway, we own the exclusive rights to the word BEER,” said Joseph Schlitz, speaking through his personal medium. “If Fritz doesn’t quit calling his old crap BEER, it will come back to haunt him.

I’m getting tired of all this bickering. I think I’ll go pop the cap on a bottle of a locally brewed craft, uh, beverage.

Addendum: Over in Pennsylvania, Tröegs Brewing Company of Harrisburg, makers of The Mad ELF Tröegs Holiday Ale, have issued a cease and desist order to Bethlehem Brew Works, which makes Fegley’s Rude ELF’s Reserve.

If I were Santa Claus, I’d be nervous.

Re-Addendum: Northern Brewer decided to re-name its Two Hearted clone kit “DEAD RINGER.” Lucky for them that Frankton Bagby Brewers, of Rugby, England, is out of business.  Its bitter was named … oh, hell; you’ve already figured it out.

Photo courtesy of boabeerblog