I wanted to say one last thing about Dinosaurs and Lawyers, since messages keep pouring in from numerous channels about “The Letter”. I posted this to BeerAdvocate.com, and hopefully helps explain things a bit.
Warning: this response is likely to be far less entertaining than anything else you could possibly be doing.
First of all, I didn’t think the letter would get shared the way it did. I posted it for kicks on my personal twitter where I don’t have that many followers, because I’m not really that important and/or cool. My friends would agree.
I don’t have anything against Steelhead Brewery, the lawyer in question, or our mail woman who delivered the C&D letter. Actually, I don’t really like our mail woman… she refuses to deliver the mail on Mondays and she always sticks packages into a box where the key doesn’t work, delaying the delivery of said package until I can flag her down to open it for me. But I digress…
Unfortunately, I have way more familiarity with Intellectual Property law than I ever cared for. I’ve been on the receiving end of C&Ds (even one from a brewery that to my knowledge STILL has never produced a single beer), none of which I’ve ever fought because I’ve never cared enough to. I’ve also been on the sending end of one C&D for the brand we are most known for, which we issued AFTER a number of conversations with the brewery in question and before they had ever produced a single drop of the potentially infringing beer.
An important characteristic of trademark law is that trademarks are very costly to protect because IP lawyers are really proud of themselves and charge commensurately. I have one of the nation’s best IP firms representing me, but I hope to never write them another check. My IP lawyer (who isn’t the one who advised me to draw the dinosaur, nor was he ever involved in this situation) is a nice guy, but I’m no Rockefeller or even Jay-Z… I need to save my pennies to make more beer. So even if you “win” a lawsuit, it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. As small businesses, can we even really call this winning? The money I spent on my IP lawyer the one time we got involved in issuing and C&D and negotiating the actual cessation of the use could and should have been spent on something much more productive in the brewery.
A few clarifications, just because I’m anal like that…
1) Freetail has never made a beer called Hopasaurus Rex. We have a page for Hopasaurus Rex on our webpage, but is it meant to describe a process we occasionally used on IPAs (and actually, we’ve used it on non-IPAs too). Most people don’t know much about Hopasaurus Rex because we haven’t done it a lot and even when we have we haven’t always pointed out we’re doing it. Here is the official description for what we formerly called “Hopasaurus Rex”:
“Once thought to be extinct, the Hopasaurus Rex is occasionally sighted on the outskirts of San Antonio, gobbling up IPAs as they make their way to the taps and instead sending forth a transformed version of hop gloriousness. His belly full of whole leaf northwestern hops, this beast’s mark is often described with terms like pine, citrus and grapefruit. The Hopasaurus does not discriminate in his IPA diet, so long as the IBUs quench his thirst.”
What all that mumbo jumbo really says is: Hopasaurus Rex is an inline “hop filter” of sorts. We stick a 5 gallon corny keg of whole leaf hops between the serving tank and the tap, for some extra hop character. So really Sam and Dogfish Head owe us a C&D letter too. Sam, if you are reading this, I will buy you some beers and let you slug me 10 times in the arm for “borrowing” the idea of Randall.
2) I can’t believe this thread has gone on this long without someone making fun of our webpage. That was a gimme. Anyway, we have a new one coming soon. [Shameless plug!]
3) I’m fortunate to have one of the coolest jobs I can think of – running a brewery. Someone previously mentioned this was kind of childish, and I agree. I’m kind of childish & I like to joke around. I’m lucky that being childish isn’t a (complete) detriment to my job, but it frustrates the hell out of our local Brewers News writer because he can’t tell if my updates are serious or not.
4) [Soapbox Alert] I think a lot of our country’s problems could be solved if people (especially elected officials) would sit down over a beer and interact more with one another instead of immediately resorting to legal options. In an ideal world, disputes like this should be handled as follows:
Brewery A: “Hey, you have a beer the same name as our trademarked beer. Can you stop”
Brewery B: “Sure, sorry about that.”
Brewery A: “Cool, can we get this in writing just so we have a paper trail”
Brewery B: “Sure amigo, let’s meet up at the next GABF or CBC and share a beer”
5) As we approach (and maybe have passed by now) 2,000 operating breweries in the United States, these disputes are inevitable. Especially since there is a finite number of lame hop puns to be used. Sometimes I get sad when I don’t think of them first, but I move on.
I was going to keep this list going, but I’m out of stuff to say. Thanks to everyone in this thread for supporting craft beer!
Hugs not drugs & beers instead of tears,
PS: Texas rules.
I appreciate everyone’s words of support – but I want to stress that “The Letter” was just me having a little fun. Again, I really do have nothing against the other brewery and I hope it continues to get support from visitors and its local community.
Support your local brewery, no matter where it is!