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June 8, 2018

Craft brewer drops the niceties in lawsuit over trademarks

A Connecticut craft brewer has sued two Portland brewers, claiming trademark infringement.

The Portland Press Herald reported that Stony Creek Brewery, which is based in Branford, Conn., claims in a suit filed June 6 in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., that Peak Organic's Ripe beer is "confusingly similar" to Stony Creek's Ripe 'n' Cranky. Peak Organic Brewing is produced at Shipyard Brewing's Portland facility. Both are based in Portland and both are named in the suit, according to the Press Herald.

Shipyard and Peak Organic have until Jan. 5 to file a response to dispute Stony Creek's claims, the Press Herald reported.

After years of craft breweries promoting the notion that they work together and that there is plenty of business for everyone, some of the niceties are being pushed aside by trademark lawsuits.

Other suits have gotten notice

A year ago, Shipyard was on the other side of such a lawsuit. It filed a trademark lawsuit against Logboat Brewing, which is based in Columbia, Mo., claiming Logboat was infringing on its trademark with its Shiphead brew.

In January, a federal judge dismissed a defamation claim that was part of that suit, the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune reported. The defamation claim came after Shipyard had filed its lawsuit and was barraged by negative comments on Facebook — comments it alleged were prompted by Logboat.

Parts of the trademark-infringement aspect will go before a mediator this month, the Press Herald reported.

The trademark disputes are not always brewer vs. brewer, according to the trade publication Craft Brewing Business. A Portland, Ore., brewer ran afoul of the city of Portland over the use of what the city said were its iconic images, including a leaping stag. The family of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk sued a brewer over its Trappist-style beer, Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale.

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