What a Bunch of Idiots: Coronado Attacks Elysian

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Update: I posted a follow up to this story that you should read.

 

On this blog, I usually try to avoid expressing opinions. I try to maintain my objectivity. Not this time. I wanted to say that up front in case it sounds like I’m ranting or in case I fail to be logical or rational. This time it’s personal.

According to a report yesterday on BeerPulse.com, Coronado Brewing Company (CBC) is suing Elysian Brewing Company. Yep, it’s another trademark infringement issue. Over the last few years other Washington breweries got the ugly end of this stick. This time it’s Elysian’s turn and the issue is the use of the word idiot.

According to BeerPulse.com, Coronado Brewing Company claims that Elysian Brewing Company’s Idiot Sauvin IPA is a “knock off” of a Coronado Brewing Company trademark. What’s more, CBC claims that Elysian is attempting “to associate Elysian’s goods unfairly with those of CBC and to divert business from CBC.”

The term knock off means something. It suggests a plan to directly imitate. It implies the theft of an idea. Apparently, Coronado Brewing Company did not refer to it as an “unfortunate coincidence of independent invention” or an “unintentional infringement.” In these kinds of legal matters, where very expensive letters are written by fast-talking people in designer suits, I image words to be very carefully chosen. They said it was a knock off.

It gets worse.

The report on BeerPulse.com quotes Coronado Brewing Company’s claims: “The Defendant’s mark and materials suggest . . . that the India Pale Ales . . . sold by the Defendant are those of CBC. Yet, the Defendant’s goods are not of the same quality as CBC’s goods. The unsuspecting consumer can be angered by this misleading advertisement.”

Really? Seriously? Does Coronado Brewing believe that? If the people (not lawyers) at Coronado Brewing believe that line of crap, they deserve to be physically harmed. They deserve to have their butts kicked by a bunch of pipe-toting brewers in steel-toe XtraTuffs. To be clear, I do not honestly think they believe it. Knowing beer people like I do, I would bet they’re nice people.

I am not a lawyer and have never played one on TV, but I smell bored attorneys and billable hours.

Recognize that I am taking BeerPulse.com at their word. I suppose they could have made all of this up. I doubt it. They are usually on top of things and are often out front with stories like this. I have not yet found any other sources of information on this one.

I am pretty bothered by all of this trademark infringement crap to begin with, but when another brewery steps up and accuses Elysian Brewing of lacking creativity, originality and ethics, that really boils my wort.

Let’s get it straight, Dick Cantwell (Elysian’s Brewmaster) does not need to steal ideas. If there is one thing he does not lack, it is creativity. Truth is, he probably has too many original ideas floating around in that big brain of his already. On a national level he is recognized as an industry leader, a trail blazer and (dare I say) a bit of a genius. Who the hell are you to accuse him of stealing an idea?

Dick, Dave and Joe (Elysian’s co-owners) did not instigate some plan to dupe anybody. Coronado Brewing knows that. Maybe their lawyers don’t, but they do. Elysian made a beer using Nelson Sauvin hops. Idiot Sauvin is a play on words. It unfairly takes advantage of the term idiot savant. But that is it. This is exactly the kind of name Elysian gives their beers: clever, quirky and sometimes even bizarre. No malice. No evil plan. No carefully crafted plot to destroy Coronado’s brand.

If Coronado’s lawyers decided that the company needed to file this suit in order to protect the trademark, that’s one thing. Business is business. I understand and respect people’s rights when it comes to trademarks. But this kind of accusation is another thing altogether. I cannot believe that Rick and Ron Chapman, the founders of Coronado Brewing, actually hold Elysian Brewing in such low esteem as to make such insane claims. I am quite certain that they do not. And that is what upsets me.

I smell blood-thirsty lawyers and billable hours. Either that or my dog just farted. Hard to tell the difference.

Read what BeerPulse.com reported.

 

26 Responses to What a Bunch of Idiots: Coronado Attacks Elysian
  1. Karly Martin
    July 11, 2012 | 1:50 pm

    Hey if Coronado Brewing wants beer drinkers to automatically think of them when they hear the word “idiot”, that’s cool. I know I will after this lawsuit.

  2. Kris
    July 11, 2012 | 2:04 pm

    What exactly is this copyright of the word “idiot” that is supposedly getting ripped off?

  3. t4toby
    July 11, 2012 | 2:04 pm

    Who the hell is Coronado Brewing? I’ve never heard of them. I certainly never had their beer, and I now know for certain that I never will.

    Jack holes.

  4. Jeff Alworth
    July 11, 2012 | 2:14 pm

    That is pathetic. Trademark protection is a fetid swamp of corporate power, so I have no idea what kind of case they have. But it is funny on a beer level that Coronado thinks they have a case. All beer geeks will instantly get the Elysian reference. But Coronado’s IPA? These are the hops: Nugget, Columbus, Centennial, Chinook, Cascade.

    See, no confusion.

  5. Shawn
    July 11, 2012 | 2:15 pm

    I’ve been to Coronado Brewing and they make decent beer, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Elysian. Of course, their location can’t be beat, but that’s beside the point. As collaborative as Washington’s beer brewers are it’s disappointing and surprising to find out that it might not extend to everyone. I will certainly not be patronizing them in the future.

  6. Josh
    July 11, 2012 | 2:18 pm

    Business is business…

  7. Jamie Morgan
    July 11, 2012 | 2:21 pm

    There are just so many words in the English language and at some point they will be reused in naming of products and in advertising. Want to be different? Start making up your own words.

    Why not stop suing everyone and just do what you do?! Make beer that people want to drink. Or don’t…and see how that works out for you.

  8. Josh
    July 11, 2012 | 2:26 pm

    “On this blog, I usually try to avoid expressing opinions” Isn’t that the point of a blog?? No need to apologize!

  9. Dave Stevens
    July 11, 2012 | 2:34 pm

    I hope they cowboy up and sue Starbucks as well. Can’t let no coffee drinkers infringe on their mermaid.

  10. Steve
    July 11, 2012 | 2:36 pm

    From Ratebeer:
    Your search for idiot found 17 beers

    The logos from Elysian and Coronado are not similar. This is just another trademark joke. It’s about time the defendant wins one of these.

  11. Dave Stevens
    July 11, 2012 | 2:52 pm
  12. Big Tex
    July 11, 2012 | 2:57 pm

    I agree… who is Coronado Brewing? Never heard of them.

  13. Dirk
    July 11, 2012 | 2:57 pm

    I sent them a note (er, email) expressing my disappointment in their corporate mentality in an industry that has a culture I thought better than that. Pretty lame and disappointing move.

    p.s. I had to laugh at the typo that said “Corona Brewing” originally

  14. bierfesten
    July 11, 2012 | 3:20 pm

    Would be interesting to read the legal claims being made so we can view it objectively. I thought Bearrepublic were baddies for suing Central City BC until going to the brewery and changing my initial opinion.
    Have been to Coronado as well they are located in a wealthy suburb of SD so assumption its a local who is a lawyer. They are taught to chase ambulances.

  15. Alan Moen
    July 11, 2012 | 3:22 pm

    I don’t know — Coronado Brewing sounds a lot like “Corona Brewery” to me. Either that, or it might be confused with the famous Toronado pub in San Francisco. I’d sure hate to see these guys get involved in another lawsuit.

  16. Mark
    July 11, 2012 | 4:52 pm

    Here is a link to the lawsuit at Justia in case anyone wants to read it – http://dockets.justia.com/docket/california/casdce/3:2012cv01185/384368/

  17. Mark
    July 11, 2012 | 5:15 pm

    And a link to the trademark – http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4004:h8fdhj.3.12

    Be interesting to see what comes of this.

  18. Marcus
    July 11, 2012 | 5:23 pm

    I wonder why they chose to pick on Elysian. They offer an Islander Pale Ale, which Maritime does as well. They also offer a Frog’s Breath IPA, so I’m sure Rogue Issaquah has stolen the whole frog thing from them. Also, they Make Stoopid Stout, so I am sure that Hop Stoopid is a “knock off.” Ridiculous. At least Elysian has decent resources to deal with this as opposed to a lot of the big guy picking on the little guy that has gone on around here.

  19. Mike
    July 11, 2012 | 5:28 pm

    According to Cornonado it’s been resolved

    Coronado Brewing just became aware of a website by an attorney critiquing a matter between Coronado and Elysian Brewing. The attorney’s commentary leaves a misperception of the matter and misrepresents Coronado’s statements. (Go figure.) Coronado never said that Elysian’s beer is a “knock off” or inferior to Coronado’s fine brews. The language that the attorney is spinning is formal language required for a trademark dispute.

    Coronado and Elysian very quickly engaged in discussions and appear to have resolved this matter to both parties’ satisfaction. In fact, Coronado and Elysian may explore cooperative projects with one another. Coronado and Elysian care about the craft brewing industry and both care about the public’s ability to identify a craft beer with its brewer through its mark.

    Coronado encourages you to try both brewers’ products.

    Ron Chapman

    CEO/Co-Founder
    Coronado Brewing Co.

    http://www.facebook.com/coronadobrewingcompany

  20. Ron Chapman
    July 11, 2012 | 5:38 pm

     

                Coronado Brewing just became aware of a website by an attorney critiquing a matter between Coronado and Elysian Brewing.  The attorney’s commentary leaves a misperception of the matter and misrepresents Coronado’s statements.  (Go figure.)  Coronado never said that Elysian’s beer is a “knock off” or inferior to Coronado’s fine brews.  The language that the attorney is spinning is formal language required for a trademark dispute.

     

                Coronado and Elysian very quickly engaged in discussions and appear to have resolved this matter to both parties’ satisfaction.  In fact, Coronado and Elysian may explore cooperative projects with one another.  Coronado and Elysian care about the craft brewing industry and both care about the public’s ability to identify a craft beer with its brewer through its mark.

     

                Coronado encourages you to try both brewers’ products.

     
    Ron Chapman

       CEO/Co-Founder
       Coronado Brewing Co. 

     

  21. Dylanjo
    July 11, 2012 | 5:45 pm

    They should rename the beer: Coronada Idiota

    Then change the image to a monkey wearing a crown.

  22. Victor
    July 11, 2012 | 5:45 pm

    What do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? “A good start”.

  23. David Matthews
    July 11, 2012 | 9:35 pm

    This type of garbage happened to Georgetown Brewing, apparently Magic Hat thinks they own the number 9. Because of this and a lawsuit threat, Georgetown changed their beer from 9LB Porter to Georgetown Porter. Magic Hat needs to be exposed as the creeps they are also.

  24. Beaux Bowman
    July 11, 2012 | 10:31 pm

    Trademark law is funny, and not in a “ha ha ha” way. Much different than what a reasonable person would interpret. The dark side of our business (any business really).

  25. MattSNZ
    July 11, 2012 | 10:47 pm

    bierfesten, what made you change your mind about Bear Republic? I live in BC and Central City is very dear to my heart/stomach. I felt that lawsuit was ridiculous and emailed to inform Bear Republic as such.

  26. tippingham
    July 12, 2012 | 11:57 am

    David, at the time Magic Hat sued Georgetown, they owned Pyramid and, in theory, could have brewed some of their Vermont brands down on First Ave. Their beer, “Number 9″, was inspired by one of the Beatles’ songs on the White Album (but was used without permission from McCartney et al.) It wasn’t a porter and I thought that lawsuit was ridiculous, too