Boycott Magic Hat Brewing Company...

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rabidgerbil

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Moderators, if this is the wrong place to post this, I apologize, and please let me know... that being said, on with my rant...

So I thought that it was just big energy drink companies that were jerks, and went around telling people what they could name their beers... I was wrong. A letter went out today from Georgetown Brewing Company in Seattle, to their regular customers, informing us that they will no longer be marketing their fantastic porter under the name 9 LB Porter. The original name of the beer, and the logo, come from the fact that it was brewed for a bar just down the street from the brewery, the 9# Hammer.

I do not work for Georgetown, nor do I have any connection to the brewery, other than the fact that I love this beer. I just think that this is a jerk move on the part of Alan Newman and Magic Hat, and I think that people should know about how others run their businesses, and think about who they chose to spend their money with.

For those of you facebookers who want to show support for Georgetown, you can like to my Magic Hat Sucks group below.



http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=50364006&id=10726344#!/group.php?gid=127550757278834
 
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rabidgerbil

rabidgerbil

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Yes, because Magic Hat has #9, and Georgetown has 9 LB Porter, often written in bars/restaurants as 9# Porter... Makes me wonder if Magic Hat is going to threaten to sue Baltika next, since they have a #9 also.
 

bonzombiekitty

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Yes, because Magic Hat has #9, and Georgetown has 9 LB Porter, often written in bars/restaurants as 9# Porter... Makes me wonder if Magic Hat is going to threaten to sue Baltika next, since they have a #9 also.
Or it could be for totally different reasons, or Georgetown is just being careful. You're bashing Magic Hat (which, for the record, I don't have any special love for) without any real evidence.

Even if Magic Hat was suing or threatening to sue, the brand names between the beers are similar enough that frankly, they do have a case. It wouldn't be a case of one company suing another company for selling a completely different product that has a very vaguely similar sounding name (as Monster Cable tends to do). It would be a case of suing over a very similar sounding name for a similar product that could, arguably, cause confusion in the market.
 

jgourd

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Could be just me, but #9 and 9# are two completely different things. Say it after me, "number 9 is not the same as 9 pound." I hate pricks.
 

bonzombiekitty

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Could be just me, but #9 and 9# are two completely different things. Say it after me, "number 9 is not the same as 9 pound." I hate pricks.
Unfortunately, it's not that simple. If the brand's logos were spelled out "Number Nine" and "nine pound", then I'd probably agree with you. However, as the branding is, the prominent feature on both of them is a giant "9" - the # or lb is of less significance. That would give Magic Hat a case if they were to sue. Not that they'd necessarily WIN, but I'd agree that they would have a case especially if the #9 was released before the 9lb.

Of course, we're talking theoretical here because nobody has demonstrated that Magic Hat has even suggested that they would sue over it. It's pure speculation at this point.
 

Homercidal

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So where is the site or document that shows where Magic Hat is threatening this other place? I'd like to take a look at it before I start petitioning or anything.
 
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rabidgerbil

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Seattle Beer News quoted the entire email that was sent out by Georgetown in their article on this.
Seattle Beer News article about 9 LB Porter being renamed.

To me, one of the key points of the email is the quote
Alan Newman, founder of Magic Hat, contacted us one year ago and told us that our use of the name 9LB Porter was trademark infringement and that we should not have been issued a federal trademark in the first place.
So Georgetown as a legal trademark, but now Magic Hat is going after anyone that uses the number 9 in their name? All this looks like to me is a guy with a ton of money pushing around the smaller guys.
 

GregR

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they should just change the name to 4.08kg porter and go metric all over their asses.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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Great point. If I ran a business and worked really hard to grow it, I wouldn't protect my interests either... :rolleyes:

If they don't protect their trademark they lose it. I am sure they spent a crap load of money to protect their brand which is a huge nationwide seller. Only an idiot wouldn't protect that.

No offense meant, but railing against Magic Hat for this is really dumb.

Microbrewery should not be synonymous with idiot and bad businessman.
 
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I think it's useful to bring this type of issue to this forum so that we are all informed. Perhaps a call to Boycott is turning people off.

Let's just agree to be smart about these issues.
 

Special Hops

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#9 is not my favorite anyways. And it's hard to find anything else they brew around here.
 

chrispykid

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Unfortunately, it's not that simple. If the brand's logos were spelled out "Number Nine" and "nine pound", then I'd probably agree with you. However, as the branding is, the prominent feature on both of them is a giant "9" - the # or lb is of less significance. That would give Magic Hat a case if they were to sue. Not that they'd necessarily WIN, but I'd agree that they would have a case especially if the #9 was released before the 9lb.

+1 Legal case aside, think about how you first perceive beer brands. In a crowded bar when you're straining to get a look at the tap handles from 15 feet away in a dark and crowded bar it's not a stretch to think that someone might see the 9lb tap handle and assume it's pouring #9 beer. Georgetown Brewing Company should have seen this coming.

I'm not sure how widely distributed Magic Hat is beyond the East Coast, but for those who might not be familiar with the company they're one of the bigger craft beer outfits on the East Coast and the #9 ale is their flagship beer. You'd have to expect them to protect their mark.
 

jmo88

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Georgetown distributes anywhere Magic Hat distributes. I've heard of Magic Hat but have never seen it here in Seattle. This whole thing seem pointless considering this. A customer could never be put into a situation where they could have the opportunity to confuse the two.
 

mullenite

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Georgetown distributes anywhere Magic Hat distributes. I've heard of Magic Hat but have never seen it here in Seattle. This whole thing seem pointless considering this. A customer could never be put into a situation where they could have the opportunity to confuse the two.
They could be expanding in to that market soon.
 

bonzombiekitty

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Georgetown distributes anywhere Magic Hat distributes. I've heard of Magic Hat but have never seen it here in Seattle. This whole thing seem pointless considering this. A customer could never be put into a situation where they could have the opportunity to confuse the two.
I don't think whether or not Magic Hat distributes in the area that Georgetown does really matters or not. It's not whether or not there's two taps at a bar and one #9 and one 9lb and a customer orders a 9lb while intending to get a #9. It's about whether or not a given customer could confuse the two somehow. Magic Hat does not need to distribute in a given area for the confusion to occur.

Rough example - person from the east coast takes a vacation to the west coast and sees a handle with a big "9" on it. He thinks "Oh they serve magic hat here, I like that and am going to get it" he orders the nine and gets a 9lb instead of a #9. Georgetown basically profited off of Magic Hat's trademark in this case because the trade marks are too similar for the products and caused confusion over the brands. Not to mention Magic Hat could conceivably start doing business in the area that Georgetown does business.

Trade marks are a federal issue so a trade mark violation certainly can occur in a given area even if the organization in question does not do business in that area.

I'm as against the big guy using their power to beat up on the little guy as the next person. That said, that doesn't mean that the big guy is always wrong. I loathe companies using vagaries of trade mark law to beat up and intimidate smaller companies especially if those violations are baseless (I try very hard not to do business with Monster Cable because of this), but I just don't think that it's the case here.
 

motobrewer

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how can you patent a number?

even if its a focal point to your labeling, you still can't prevent other people from using the number 9 in their beer label or name. if you wanted to have a unique, patentable label, you should have been more creative and not use a roman numeral. a decent patent lawyer would get this dismissed.

and i don't drink magic hat because they might be jags, their beer just sucks. pyramid sucks too.
 

buffalobrewer

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Georgetown distributes anywhere Magic Hat distributes. I've heard of Magic Hat but have never seen it here in Seattle. This whole thing seem pointless considering this. A customer could never be put into a situation where they could have the opportunity to confuse the two.
It's only pointless if you want to lose your trademark. Unfortunately they are similar products with similar names. Think about the seattle person who is visiting boston and does not like 9lb and see's the big 9 on the tap and skips over it thinking it's 9lb.
 

chrispykid

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how can you patent a number?
They didn't - they trademarked it. And they have the right to protect their intellectual property the same way that GE would if some one else started selling electronics under the name General Electric or Brooklyn Brewery would if another brewer started calling their beer a Brooklyn Lager. Just because the term is in general use doesn't mean it can't be a protected trademark.

FWIW I'm not really a fan of the beer either, but that doesn't mean that they don't have a sound argument.
 

beltbuckle

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Rough example - person from the east coast takes a vacation to the west coast and sees a handle with a big "9" on it. He thinks "Oh they serve magic hat here, I like that and am going to get it" he orders the nine and gets a 9lb instead of a #9.
That's absurd. Who the hell orders a beer like this? If the customer is aware of the beer they would ask for it by name, not "give me the beer that comes out of that tap handle with the number 9 on it". Not too mention they look completely different.
 

mullenite

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That's absurd. Who the hell orders a beer like this? If the customer is aware of the beer they would ask for it by name, not "give me the beer that comes out of that tap handle with the number 9 on it". Not too mention they look completely different.
I work in a convenience store, you have no idea how many times I've heard:

"Do you have that beer that starts with a 'Y'?" (Yuengling)

"Do you have that '9' beer?" (Magic Hat #9)

I've even had someone say "Do you have that blue beer?" I still don't know what they were talking about.

People do order beers that way. The whole world are not in to craft beer and they are not beer aficionados.
 

ShortSnoutBrewing

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That's absurd. Who the hell orders a beer like this? If the customer is aware of the beer they would ask for it by name, not "give me the beer that comes out of that tap handle with the number 9 on it". Not too mention they look completely different.
Actually, not absurd at all. The number of beer "geeks", homebrewers, beer elite is far less than the everyday Joe. It would not surprise me one bit to hear a beer ordered the exact way you mention. If all you see is a "9" and have a memory saved somewhere of a beer with a "9" in it instinct will go with ordering it thinking it's the same as your memory.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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That's absurd. Who the hell orders a beer like this? If the customer is aware of the beer they would ask for it by name, not "give me the beer that comes out of that tap handle with the number 9 on it". Not too mention they look completely different.
Ummm. How about the 70% of the population that enjoys beer but isn;t a EAC beer geek?
 

Homercidal

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It is pretty sad when the number 9 is trademarked. I think that they could have changed the name to use letters only, and avoid the numeral, but that chose not to do that.

I'm completely fed up with these BS trademark protection lawsuits. If the name and logo aren't VERY close, I think they need to STFU and DIAF.
 

Pilgarlic

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I haven't read carefully enough to be sure, but I don't think any patent attorneys have weighed in. That being the case, I, for one, will ignore all the legal opinions that have been expressed. MY experience with the law is that it is what it is, regardless of what seems logical or reasonable, and to attempt to make a legal argument from common sense or reason is at least unreliable and probably utterly feckless. So, follow your gut on this one.
 

dukerutledge

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Magic Hat is definitely planning to move into the west coast market. They just expanded their brewing capacity and purchased a brewery out west (not sure which one).

I'm not a huge fan of trademark B.S., but it seems like they aren't doing anything awry. This is nothing like the "Monster" = "Vermonster" B.S. that rockart almost got slung with.
 

jgourd

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I don't think whether or not Magic Hat distributes in the area that Georgetown does really matters or not. It's not whether or not there's two taps at a bar and one #9 and one 9lb and a customer orders a 9lb while intending to get a #9. It's about whether or not a given customer could confuse the two somehow. Magic Hat does not need to distribute in a given area for the confusion to occur.

Rough example - person from the east coast takes a vacation to the west coast and sees a handle with a big "9" on it. He thinks "Oh they serve magic hat here, I like that and am going to get it" he orders the nine and gets a 9lb instead of a #9. Georgetown basically profited off of Magic Hat's trademark in this case because the trade marks are too similar for the products and caused confusion over the brands. Not to mention Magic Hat could conceivably start doing business in the area that Georgetown does business.

Trade marks are a federal issue so a trade mark violation certainly can occur in a given area even if the organization in question does not do business in that area.

I'm as against the big guy using their power to beat up on the little guy as the next person. That said, that doesn't mean that the big guy is always wrong. I loathe companies using vagaries of trade mark law to beat up and intimidate smaller companies especially if those violations are baseless (I try very hard not to do business with Monster Cable because of this), but I just don't think that it's the case here.
We're becoming more and more a society that's willing to throw personal responsibility out the window. If I were to see a beer with a 9 on it, I'd read a bit closer to make sure it's the one I'm thinking it is. Why is it always someone else's responsibility to make sure we don't screw up? I figure if you order the wrong beer because you didn't read the $#@^&! label correctly, you deserve it. It's sort of like the idiots that think it's the alcohol that caused the accident or the gun that caused the death or the pencil that caused the bad grade--as opposed to the person wielding or consuming the object. Mistakes happen. Live with the consequences. Then make sure you don't make the same mistake again. Simple.
 

bad coffee

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Could be just me, but #9 and 9# are two completely different things.
I'm dyslexic. they're both the same to me.

I'm okay with Magic Shat covering their arse. It's their trademark. Georgetown could just change their beer to "Nine LB Porter" Done, just a label and trademark change.

I would absolutely love for some to hand me a "#9" and it be a nice porter.

B
 
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