What’s in a name?

Charles Colton is credited with the phrase, “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.”

Like in any facet, imitation is always around us whether we notice or not.  Credit the gecko.   Geckos can pretty much climb anywhere because if their specialized toe pads (did you know that!).  Some species are parthenogenic, which means females don’t need men around to procreate.  Those characteristics are often looked past the most well-known attribute of the family Gekkota (I’m a nerd, yes, I know, it doesn’t help when your best friend is a Biology professor emphasizing in birds and amphibians): The ability to imitate their surroundings by changing color.

The craft beer industry is not new to imitation.  Most well-known is the case between Avery Brewing and Russian River.  In short, both breweries produced a beer named Salvation and instead of going the legal route, the brewers blended both beers and called it Collaboration, not Litigation.  Quite tasty.

Some can be friendly, where as, most go in the opposite direction involving meanie lawyers and lawsuits.

For example,  Kentucky witnessed the West 6th vs Magic Hat debacle which led to emails/letters being posted on the interwebs.  It all went viral.  Fast.  The end result was West 6th removing the “star” or “compass” from their logo.  The positive spin is that it put West 6th on the craft beer map outside of the Commonwealth.

If you were to go onto BeerPulse and put “desist” in the search engine, you could see the many “cease and desist” letters which get sent between breweries.  Another good one is DC Brew Law.  So yea, this stuff happens all the time. Why, it’s just beer?  Well, it is, but also money is involved when it comes to product confusion.

Case in point, I’ve known there is a Against the Grain Brewery & Alehouse in the Quad Cities (Illinois and Indiana) for the past year or so.  My friend from New Holland Brewery, Tim, is friends with the brewer and told me about it when we were at the Against the Grain in Louisville, KY.  Based on their beer menu, the Quad Cities version is not brewing their own beer and on their FB page, they refer to themselves as AG, not ATG.  You have to ask yourself, if they do produce beer and send it three hours to the east to Chicago, there will be some market confusion since ATG (Louisville) currently resides there.  I’ve spoken to neither sides in regards, but assume/hope it gets figured out amicably.

Thanks to an article by Kevin Gibson for Insider Louisville, imitation may have reared its ugly head yet again.  Gibson discussed the proposed opening of Red Yeti Brewery in Jeffersonville, IN with their headlining beer “HopIPAtamus”.  As soon I read that, I thought to myself two things:

1. How the hell do you say that? (pronounce it similarly to “hippopotamus”)

2. That sounds an awful lot like it’s neighbor to the west, Hoptimus from NABC. (Not to be confused with Hoptimus Prime by Ruckus Brewing…which can’t touch NABCs version)

HopIPAtamus. Hoptimus.  That could get confusing if Red Yeti started putting beer out in the Kentuckiana market.

What say you?

But what’s in semantics, phonetics, or rhetoric anyway?

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  1. As you say, it’s all about the money. And I wouldn’t doubt that it’s less about market confusion than putting a competitor out of business, or at least reaping some of their hard-earned dollars through a lawsuit! Despicable! But, also as you say, West 6th (thankfully) got on my radar simply by reading about the Magic (Ass) Hat litigation on this site. I immediately went out and bought some solely for reasons of priciple. What I found out is that the beer is one of the best IPA’s I’ve ever tasted – when it’s fresh out of a new keg, I don’t think it can be beat.

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