The Latest David and Goliath Saga in the Beer Wars

I just got off the phone with Matt Nadeau of Vermont’s Rock Art Brewery. I’ve been following the story of Matt’s fight to keep the rights to his Vermonster beer. For those of you that don’t know the story, it’s one that is unfortunately becoming all too familiar. Big corporation (in this case, Hansen Beverage Company, makers of Monster energy drink) going after a small entrepreneur (Rock Art) over the right to trademark a name (Vermonster). Read and watch more about this ludicrous story:

While I fully respect trademark law and understand how important it is to protect your brand, in this case it’s gone too far. Does anyone really believe that someone drinking a Vermonster beer will confuse it with a Monster energy drink? Oh Please.

For those of you who have seen the film, this is reminiscent of Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head’s fight with Anheuser-Busch over over the right to use the words Punkin Ale and Chicory Stout in 2 of his beers. He eventually prevailed.

By the way, do you know who distributes Monster in the US? 2 guesses and the first one doesn’t count. Yup, it’s none other than Anheuser-Busch wholesalers. Read more here and here.

So what can you do? You can join the Facebook group Vermonters and Craft Beer Drinkers Against Monster and/or join the conversation on BeerAdvocate and also watch the YouTube video so Matt can document his supporters.

Let’s hear from you and see what else can be done to stop this kind of bullying. Matt just wants to get back to making beer.

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3 Responses to “The Latest David and Goliath Saga in the Beer Wars”

  1. markskar says:

    I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about the A-B connection. Makes a little more sense now…

  2. Since Hansen’s wouldn’t license in Australia, someone beat them to the punch and trademarked the name. Of course Odwalla was making Monster C at least six years before Hansen, who also made smoothies got the name for energy/functional drinks. and then of course there is the beer connection (from Hansen investors page):

    Based in St. Louis, Anheuser Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.8 percent share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27 percent share in Tsingtao, the No. 1 brewer in China. Anheuser-Busch was ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2006. Anheuser Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and is America’s top recycler of aluminum cans. For more information, visit http://www.anheuser-busch.com. Based in Corona, California, Hansen Natural Corporation is a leading marketer of alternative and functional beverages and energy drinks. In addition to Monster Energy, Lost Energy and Rumba energy juice, products marketed by Hansen include Hansen’s® Natural Sodas, Hansen’s fruit juice smoothies and Hansen’s® 100 percent juices, juice blends and multi vitamin juices, Junior Juice® juices, Blue Sky® brand beverages and Fizzit™ brand powdered drink mixes. For more information visit http://www.hansens.com and http://www.monsterenergy.com.

    “know your enemy” – Black Flag

  3. Beer Nation says:

    In the case of Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout and Punkin’ Ale, was A-B challenging Dogfish Head’s right to use the names, or merely challenging its right to trademark protect those names (i.e., prevent others from using the names)? It seems far more likely that A-B was merely challenging Dogfish Head’s right to trademark protect them, especially Chicory Stout which is a descriptive name (e.g., you can’t trademark the name “apple pie”) and therefore not available for trademarking. In that case, Dogfish Head would be allowed to use the names, but so would any other brewer.

Oenophiles have SIDEWAYS and BOTTLE SHOCK; now their beer-loving counterparts can claim a film as their own.
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A David and Goliath story pitting the country's smallest brewers against the largest.
Beer Wars: Brewed in America, is an eye-opening, funny and righteously infuriating documentary by first-time filmmaker Anat Baron. Her film (think of it as Suds: A Love Story) is also a pretty damning indictment of not just the beer industry but contemporary unfettered unregulated capitalism's disturbing excesses.
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In Beer Wars, entrepreneurialism and opportunity go awry when tainted by greed and a thirst for power.
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