What’s in a name? Shakespeare might disagree, viewing the world with rosy glasses, but in the world of craft beer, a name is everything. In Denver, Colorado, Renegade Brewing Company produces an ale named Elevation Triple IPA. It is fairly well-rated, and one of their bestsellers.
But a brewery in Poncha Springs, Colorado, is named Elevation Beer Company. I bet you can see this coming. Elevation Beer Company is suing Renegade Brewing Company over the name, claiming brand confusion. Ah, there’s the rub! The Elevation Company has a federal trademark on the name, but Renegade has a local trademark that was obtained before Elevation Beer Company went into business.
According to Elevation Beer Company: “Like all trademark owners, the registration of our trademark obligates us to defend this mark by law.” The letter went on to say Elevation Beer Company is committed to keeping this matter professional and private.”
But Renegade owner Brian O’Connell says, “I think the average craft brew consumer is well educated, and I think they know the difference between the products.”
Finally, the Elevation Beer Company issued this public statement: “The Elevation Beer Company® team was saddened to see Renegade Brewing Company handling a private trademark dispute in public, again. We filed our trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 14, 2011. Like all trademark owners, the registration of our trademark obligates us to defend this mark by law. To this date, we have not filed a complaint with the USPTO, or in any court, for Renegade’s use of the ‘Elevation’ mark.Elevation Beer Company made numerous attempts to resolve this issue between both parties, with no lawyers involved. Elevation Beer Company is committed to keeping this matter professional and private; we will continue to focus on our team, the community, and producing quality beer. This will be our only public statement on this matter.”
If you are not thoroughly confused by now, then let’s hope the two companies can settle the dispute amicably and out of court. There are enough legislators and Big Beer lobbyists working to hurt craft brewing, and the last thing we need is two brewers fighting each other.