from the just-stop dept
Despite all of the coverage we provide on alcohol-related trademark disputes, Moosehead Breweries has still managed to separate itself from the pack with its aggressive trademark enforcement behavior. You should recall that this is the brewery that sued a root beer company called Moose Whiz and a brewery making a beer called Müs Knuckle under the theory that because it somehow got a trademark on the term “moose” it therefore means that any beverage company using that word is infringing its trademark. That’s not correct on multiple fronts, including the question of whether any customers are actually or potentially being confused by the so-called infringing uses. Add to that the somewhat strange circumstance of Canada’s CIPO approving a heritage word like “moose” in the Canadian market.
Well, Moosehead is still at it, this time suing a brewery called Hop ‘N Moose over that same trademark.
Moosehead Breweries Limited, based in Saint John, New Brunswick, sued the Hop’n Moose Brewing Co. last week in federal court in Vermont, alleging trademark infringement. The Canadian firm alleges that the moose image the downtown Rutland brewpub uses is too similar to the moose head with antlers the larger company uses in its logos and branding materials.
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and wants Hop’n Moose ordered to hand over any profits it has made while using the moose image. It also wants the Rutland company to stop using the image and to “deliver up and/or destroy” all trademark infringing products. The filing also demands that Hop’n Moose stop using the domain address for its website, hopnmoose.com.
Here again we see Moosehead wielding a fairly generic term like a trademark cudgel. I have to admit being a little surprised that the filing goes in as hard as it does on the actual trade dress of both brands. In past trademark suits, Moosehead has thought it enough to show up with its “moose” trademark and assume that was enough. Here they are going after the image of moose in both companies’ logos, claiming that they will cause confusion. Here are both logos.
Sure, you might say there are some similarities there, but only because both show an image of a moose. One is just the head of the moose, hence the beer named “moosehead”, where the other is the silhouette of a full moose. It should be noted that Moosehead does have a trademark on a version of its moose head image that is a silhouette, except that I can’t find it being used anywhere. Even if the brewery does use that image, it is certainly not the image or logo that the public associates with Moosehead beer.
And that’s the ultimate point here. The rest of the trade dress is, again, different enough to stave off any real customer confusion. In addition, the company names are different enough, and prominently displayed in both cases, to keep customers from being confused. It’s a wonder why Moosehead keeps going down this road, but I suppose bullies are going to bully.