As many of you know, there has been recent legal action between Bear Republic Brewing of Healdsburg, CA and Central City Brewing of Surrey, BC.
In a nutshell, Bear Republic filed suit against Central City over possible copyright infringement regarding the use of the “Red Racer” branding for Central City’s canned beer. Bear Republic felt that Central City’s branding infringed on or was purposely designed to confuse people in regard to 2 Bear Republic beers/service marks; Red Rocket Ale and Racer 5 IPA.
The court ruled that although “RACER 5 is a strong mark deserving of broad protection, and the RED ROCKET is a weak mark deserving of only limited protection“, “Bear Republic has failed to show a likelihood of success in establishing that Central City’s RED RACER mark infringes the RACER 5 or RED ROCKET marks.”
And “the way in which a typical consumer would encounter the products in the marketplace does not support a finding of likelihood of confusion.”
Bottom line, the court denied Bear Republic’s motion for an injunction against Central City.
“Bear Republic has not shown a likelihood of succeeding on the merits in establishing its infringement claims”
As a regular consumer of craft beer, I always felt that there was little merit to the Bear Republic claim. I’ve drank plenty of both brewery’s beer and have never been confused about the two in any way, shape or form. In reading the decision my favorite part is as follows:
“While it is true that beer purchasers are not likely to exercise a high degree of care in purchasing a relatively inexpensive item like beer, it seems likely that drinkers of craft-brewed beer may be generally more discerning drinkers than average beer drinkers, and they would be likely to remember correctly or recognize at least one of the several distinguishing elements between RACER 5 and RED RACER.”
In essence, the judge says that craft beer drinkers are smarter than the average beer drinker! (Leaving out that apparently Bear Republic thinks craft beer drinkers are too stupid to tell the difference between the 2 brands)
I always knew we craft beer drinkers were smarter and more discerning, but now we have a judge’s decision to back it up!
The full court decision can be found here: http://www.leagle.com/unsecure/page.htm?shortname=infdco20100607741
Andy The Beerman