High crimes: Trademark dispute forces brewer to drop ‘420’ labelJuly 16, 2013 5:03 pm Leave your thoughts
A recent dispute resolution has forced a California-based brewery to stop using "420"—a slang term for smoking marijuana—on its beer bottle labels.
Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas Brewing, said that the company would remove the term after the Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Company demanded the change, citing a federal trademark.
According to The Press Democrat, Sweetwater brews a "420" pale ale, which jointly references the drug ("Drink 'em if you got 'em") and the Interstate 420 near Atlanta. Meanwhile, Lagunitas uses the term on its label for its seasonal brew, "The Waldo's Special Ale."
The name, the news source reported, refers to "The Waldos"—a group of students at San Rafael high School in Marin County who, according to legend, coined "420" when they decided to smoke marijuana together at 4:20 p.m.
Federal records list 78 active trademarks involving "420," the Press Democrat found, including the one held by Sweetwater.
In a blunt statement on Twitter, Magee called Sweetwater founder Freddy Bensch a "dweeb" for sending a letter rather than discussing the issue in person.
Despite his initial disappointment, however, he later decided to take the high road. In a subsequent tweet, Magee wrote: "No problem, I think we outgrew it anyway … It ain't what we are anyway, but it is what I do! Hope you do too. Long live the Waldo's!"
Many small breweries have lately found themselves in need of a Phoenix business attorney to settle disputes over intellectual property. In May, for example, Magic Hat accused a Kentucky brewer of producing bottles that were "confusingly similar" to its own product.
Categorised in: Intellectual Property Law
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