The most important news I have today is that the issue has apparently been laid to rest. Yesterday’s post about a trademark issue between Coronado Brewing and Elysian Brewing attracted a lot of attention. I knew that it would and I am not apologizing for that. I just want to be clear. I know this kind of trademark issue spurs a lot of angst in people around Seattle. I admit that I took advantage of my audience’s passion. I saw the story on BeerPulse and realized that someone in the Seattle blogosphere would be the first to jump on it. For both selfish and altruistic reasons, I wanted it to be me. That’s not an apology, it’s just the truth.
Amongst the many comments left on yesterday’s post, there is one that I am compelled to share. Ron Chapman, one of the founders of Coronado Brewing, left the following comment:
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’s comment is perhaps the most important thing that was said. More important than anything I said in the original post and more important than any of the other comments.
I want to be clear: in yesterday’s post I did not mean to accuse Coronado Brewing of lacking integrity. I took issue with the language. As Mr. Chapman says, it is the kind of legalese required for such matters. Required or not, I hate that language. I’m betting Mr. Chapman hates it too. I very much prefer the language that he used when leaving his comment.
On the blog and on Facebook many people left comments badmouthing and otherwise disparaging Coronado Brewing. Personally, I think that was unfortunate. In the original post, I tried to make it clear that I took issue with the language apparently used by Coronado’s attorneys. I did not question Coronado’s character. People left comments that did question Coronado’s character and that is unfortunate.
Maybe I am guilty of walking into a theater and yelling, “Fire!” Ya, I probably am. Sorry about that one. I should have seen it coming. And that is an apology.
In a weird way, it is kind of like the pot calling the kettle black. It ticked me off, in an admittedly irrational way, that the first brewery seemed to say something disparaging about the second brewery, and then everyone started to say disparaging things about the first brewery. Apparently I started a firestorm of hypocrisy. Not my intention.
This is a hair trigger issue for people around Seattle who have watched a few different local breweries “get burned” by trademark issues. This will not be the last time it comes up. Other local breweries will face these kinds of issues. Some of our local breweries will instigate trademark infringement lawsuits against other breweries. And when they do, their lawyers will probably use the same kind of vicious language. It’s inevitable. It’s business. When it happens, we all just need to step back and take a deep breath.
I don’t always like it, but I realize that the beer business is composed of equal parts beer and business. This is the way the business world works. From now on, when these kinds of issues come up, I’m going to consider a few important points before I go half-cocked crazy again:
- Like it or not, people have the right to hold trademarks. Like it or not, people who hold trademarks must protect and defend them. If they don’t defend a mark, they will lose it.
- Maybe you think it is stupid that people can hold trademarks involving words like raven, solstice, Buddha, and idiot. Whatever you think, that’s the way it works. The holders of such trademarks did not make up the rules.
- We live in a country where people have the right to protect their brands and their intellectual property. As a writer, I am pretty damn happy about that fact. On occasion, people rip off my content and post it on their own websites without asking permission or giving me any credit. Would you not afford me the right to go after those rat bastards?
- And finally, don’t take it personally. This is business.
Truth is, these kinds of issues might be a bit too complex and, honestly, a bit too important for this forum. After all, the Washington Beer Blog does not aim to be divisive. We just want to share the love. Maybe the blog doesn’t get as many comments or as much attention when we just talk about the “beer” part of the beer business, but that’s what I like to do.
I will continue to use this blog to inform the public about the world of craft beer, but will be a bit more careful about hurting people and businesses that probably don’t deserve to be hurt. Although it really wasn’t my intention, I can understand how Coronado Brewing interpreted what I said (and especially what all the comments said) as an attack on their integrity. I sincerely apologize for that.
Next time I’m in San Diego, I’m going to stop by Coronado Brewing and have a couple beers.