By now, we’ve grown accustomed to breweries going after each other over trademark infringements. Sometimes, it’s two small breweries in separate parts of the country who name one of their beers the same thing, and then the lawyers get involved. Sometimes a larger brewery squelches a smaller brewery’s naming games. In this situation, we have two of the largest craft breweries in the country squaring off.
Lagunitas filed a trademark infringement claim against Sierra Nevada over trademark infractions regarding the lettering on Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter IPA labels.
Here’s a key piece of the complaint.
The unique “IPA” lettering used in the Lagunitas “IPA” Family of Trademarks has a distinctive serif font, distinctive kerning (or letter spacing), between the “P” and the “A”, slightly aged or weathered look, with uneven areas on each of the letters, and the elimination of any periods between the letters. These elements together are unique to the iconic design of the Lagunitas IPA.
According to the SF Gate, “The similarities are so great, Lagunitas argues, that the new Sierra Nevada beer will either harm Lagunitas’s brand or look like a collaboration. The company is seeking a temporary restraining order against the release of Hop Hunter, as well as financial compensation.”
This is Sierra Nevada’s response to the lawsuit.
The Complaint alleges that Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter IPA design will create confusion among consumers between the Lagunitas IPA and Sierra Nevada’s new Hop Hunter IPA, and we intend to vigorously dispute that any consumer could possibly confuse our Hop Hunter packaging with anything that Lagunitas has.
What do you think? Does Lagunitas have a case here?