If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, color the owners of BrewDog thoroughly flattered. The Scotland-based craft brewery has almost a dozen craft beer bars across the United Kingdom. They learned recently that a counterfeit BrewDog bar has opened in Changzhou, China. It’s hard to fathom the number of trademark laws the Chinese bar has broken, but instead of getting all litigious, BrewDog co-founder James Watt responded by writing an open letter to the new fake BrewDog owner, essentially welcoming Fake BrewDog to the craft beer movement.
Referring to the Fake BrewDog owner as “Emperor,” Watt thanked the imitator for taking the time and energy to rip off his business.
“Thank you,” Watt writes. “It’s not every day someone pays you the compliment of copying what you do. I mean, I’ll admit we were surprised when we saw a picture of the bar you’ve constructed in our image in Changzhou, and maybe a little terrified, but mainly we were peculiarly proud. There’s something that says ‘you’ve made it’ when a weird replica of your craft beer brand is peddling beers through counterfeit taps somewhere in the world’s biggest country.”
BrewDog is famous for once making the UK’s strongest beer (Tokyo), then the world’s strongest beer (Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32%), and offering shares of the company to fans online. BrewDog now has craft beer bars across the UK. The company is as well known for its shenanigans as it is its beer (brewing beer at the bottom of the ocean, packaging beer inside dead animals…), so it’s completely appropriate that BrewDog would have a non-traditional approach to getting so blatantly ripped off.
In an increasingly litigious industry (beer makers are suing each other for using the same numbers on beer labels), BrewDog has chosen to turn the other cheek.
“We see you not as criminals, but compatriots. Not as competitors, but comrades,” Watt writes.
You can read the whole letter here.