Originally Posted by brycelarson
Your analogy only works if James chose the name after he already knew someone else had it.
Generally yes, but in this case the fact that "Strange Brew" is a common term, with an obvious association that long predates either company's use, casts uncertainty on whether the trademark is defensible (morally or legally). Someone's Star Wars analogy above was apt. The LHBS is already leaning on the familiarity of the public with both a common term and its specific association with the movie, so I don't see much reason to be sympathetic when he cries foul.
It's even funnier/sadder to see the claim that the brewery was trying to take advantage of the LHBS's reputation and goodwill.
Furthermore, they assert in the C&D and the trademark application to have a claim on the name in the context of "beer." One can reasonably argue either way whether selling beer-making supplies constitutes commerce in the "beer" market. My own feeling is that, no, it's related to beer, but unless they were selling beer under the Strange Brew name, they don't have a valid claim. Furthermore, unless they were actually selling beer in the Colorado market, the fact that they sold other products there is irrelevant.
And, finally, the sad thing is that they could have handled this much more amicably from the start. Defending a trademark does not require sending a rude C&D as first contact, even if you do intend on insisting that the trademark be yielded to you (which is not strictly necessary).