from the a-moosing dept
For the past few years, we have detailed several trademark actions brought by Moosehead Breweries Limited, the iconic Canadian brewery that makes Moosehead beer, against pretty much every other alcohol-related business that dares to use the word “moose” or any moose images. This recent trend has revealed that Moosehead is of the opinion that only it can utilize the notorious animal symbol of both Canada and the northern United States. Without any seeming care for whether actual confusion might exist in the marketplace, these actions by Moosehead have instead smacked of pure protectionism over a common word and any and all images of a common animal.
One of those actions included a suit against Hop ‘N Moose Brewing, a small microbrewery out of Vermont. The filing in that case was notable in that it actually alleged detailed examples of trade dress infractions, while the images of the trade dress included in the filing appeared to be fairly distinct. Absent, of course, was any evidence of actual confusion in the marketplace. It appeared for all the world that Moosehead’s legal team seemed to take past criticism of its trademark protectionism as a critique of the word and image count in its filings and simply decided to up the volume on both ends. Since late last year, despite having done all of this legal literary work to support the suit, little if anything had been litigated after the initial filing.
And now it seems this whole thing will suddenly go away. Without any real explanation from either party, Moosehead has dropped its suit entirely.
Moosehead Breweries has dropped its trademark infringement lawsuit against Rutland’s only brewpub. The notice of voluntary dismissal, filed earlier this month in federal court, gives no explanation for the Canadian brewery’s abandonment of the action. The dismissal was filed without prejudice, meaning Moosehead is free to file the lawsuit anew if it chooses.
As the article goes on to note, pretty much nobody on either side is offering any explanation for any of this. Moosehead itself, along with its attorneys, are remaining silent on the matter. Hop ‘N Moose, for its part, has acknowledged that it has been communicating with Moosehead, but only to reiterate that it doesn’t feel any potential for confusion exists. Often times when there is a settlement, either the court or one of the parties mentions its existence, even if the details of the settlement are confidential. That tends to be the case more often in trademark cases compared with copyright cases, as well. Yet here, nobody is talking about a settlement of any kind. Instead, this seems to be Moosehead simply packing its bags and heading back across the border, although we cannot be certain no settlement was reached.
And, while that’s a better outcome for a small entity like Hop ‘N Moose than a long, drawn out trial, it’s worth remembering that it still had the burden of having to deal with even this truncated legal action, all because Moosehead filed a trademark suit that wasn’t worth carrying through in the first place. Whatever that means for the exploding craft beer industry, it isn’t good for growth and innovation.