After months of working in good faith, and receiving assurances that West Sixth Brewing would modify its marketing materials, Magic Hat Brewing was blindsided by a social media ambush that attempts to deflect West Sixth Brewing’s trademark infringements.
“West Sixth Brewing packaged the “perfect story” of a large brewery beating up on a small start-up,” said Ryan Daley, brand manager of Magic Hat. “The only problem is: it’s not true.”
Talks between the two breweries started in September of 2012 after marketplace concerns surfaced by a Kentucky wholesaler who refused to carry West Sixth Brewing because he felt it too closely resembled Magic Hat, which he already distributed. Magic Hat sales representatives, who came across the West Sixth Brewing products in the Ohio and South Carolina markets, also expressed concerns about the similarities.
“Our first step was to reach out to them. We hoped to handle it amicably. We had no desire to file a lawsuit against a fellow brewer,” said Daley. “We thought we had made a lot of progress with West Sixth. They agreed in principle to modify their design. And now they’re going back on their word, and are attempting to tarnish our image instead.”
In letters proposing a resolution to avoid a court case, West Sixth Brewing agreed to:
1. Remove the design element that mirrors Magic Hat’s #9 starburst/dingbat star packaging;
2. Use and promote the wording West Sixth Brewing in conjunction with the design (Magic Hat agrees that this will help eliminate confusion);
3. Work in good faith to phase out and replace any existing materials that may contain the prior version of the encircled “6” design;
4. Amend its current federal trademark application or re-file the application with the new design.
“After months of working with them, they abruptly changed their minds and refused to take the simplest steps to avoid confusion and a lawsuit,” said Daley. “Unfortunately, we have no other option but to pursue legal action that protects the uniqueness of our brand. We notified West Sixth Brewing and they immediately began a smear campaign to pressure us to drop the lawsuit. This is all very unfortunate since they could have prevented it by living up to the commitments they made.”
Magic Hat Brewing started brewing beer in Burlington, Vermont in 1994. West Sixth Brewing began brewing in 2012. Shortly after, Magic Hat started receiving calls from people who were concerned about similarities between the two brands. Media contact: Mary Beth Popp (716) 880-1433