I received an email last night from Matt Nadeau, the owner of Rock Art Brewery in Vermont. Rock Art is a small brewery that makes some notable beers. One of my personal favorites is their “Vermonster“, which is a big delicious 10% ABV 100 IBU barley wine. Well it seems that Hansen Beverage, the owners of Monster Energy Drink, have contacted Nadeau and threatened to file suit against Rock Art for the trademark infringement of using the word “Monster” in the name of this beer.
Rock Art has been brewing the “Vermonster” which has been trademarked in Vermont since 2006, and sells 95% of it within 50 miles of their Morrisville Vermont brewery. Recently, Nadeau has considered expanding the distribution of his “Vermonster”, which apparently has triggered the response of the Monster Energy Drink Legal team.
Not only is this ridiculous, but also a bit ironic considering that one of the most absurd series of trademark lawsuits of all time comes from “Monster Cable” who has a history of suing almost everyone who uses Monster in their name, including yes – Monster Energy Drink.
One of the “tests” of trademark infringement is often referred to (at least on my beloved Techdirt) as the “moron in a hurry” test. Could a moron in a hurry tell the difference between the two products in question?
Interestingly, when Nadeau offered to sign an agreement that Rock Art would never enter the “energy drink” market, he was told by Monster’s lawyers that they were not concerned with energy drinks, but that they intend to enter the beer market. Sadly that leads me to believe they are going to pump out another ridiculous “energy beer”.
Nadeau stated in his email that trademark infringement suits like this can cost upwards of $50,000 to defend, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Perhaps he should take to e-Bay like the owners of Monster Mini-Golf who were sued by the Monster Cable folks for trademark infringement earlier this year.
I wish Matt and the folks at Rock Art the best in this battle. I am sure that it’s not going to be an easy one. I will keep you updated as I get more information, but in the interim I suggest you go out and pick up a bottle or two (or 12) of the Rock Art Vermonster while you can.
Let’s face it, if the folks at Hansen Beverage were sipping on Rock Art’s beer instead of their “energy drink”, they probably wouldn’t be so on edge and we may not be telling this story at all.