Here’s another sign that the craft brewing industry is experiencing growing pains. With more than 2,000 breweries doing business in America, unique beer names are getting harder to come by. As a result, brewery owners are finding out–sometimes the hard way–that someone is always using that name and thus owns the trademark. While most disputes over beer names are resolved without a lawsuit–the copycat brewery simply chooses a new name–some say that tougher competition for market share has made people less cooperative.
Rock Art Brewery, a micro located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is facing a trademark suit over its use of “Vermonster” for one of its beers. Hansen Beverage Company, the maker of Monster energy drinks, contends that “Vermonster” would dilute the “Monster” trademark and has demanded that Rock Art stop using the name.
Rock Art isn’t the first brewery to be on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist letter over the use of a beer name. Some years ago Bell’s Brewery, Inc., changed “Solsun” to “Oberon” after the Mexican brewer of “Sol” beer threatened to take Bell’s to court.