Having myself been on the receiving end of a “nuisance lawsuit”, my heart goes out to Matt Nadeau, the owner of a small microbrewery called Rock Art in rural Vermont.
He has been threatened with litigation by Monster Energy Drink (via Chris Day of Knobbe Martens Olsen & Bear LLP) who claim that his “Vermonster” microbrew beer infringes on their trademark. They are insisting he immediately remove the brand from stores and bars along with all marketing material. The way this type of lawsuit plays out in court is the party with the deepest pockets wins – no matter who is right. Hansen Beverage Co of California is a billion dollar corporation. Rock Art are seven people.
I admire Matt for not caving in to the bullying. The Consumerist cites another example of Hansen Beverage and their IP protection firm Continental Enterprises, threatening actor Trgve Lode who often plays monsters in the movies. His story seems a bit far-fetched but it got me onto Continental Enterprises web site. I was surprised by what I found. Continental Enterprises boasts “We use non-traditional strategies to combat infringers” I think the problem is that firms like Continental Enterprises are using strategies that are all-too traditional. Legal bullying and frivolous litigation by fat cats have become a part of the American business tradition because business and their lawyers could get away with it. Those days are gone. And its time that tradition stopped. I hope Hansen are taught this lesson by way of an internet shit storm that sullies their brands in ways that boggle their Web 1.0 minds.
Listen to Matt Nadeau tell the story in his own words. And, PLEASE, spread the word about this. This David will only beat Goliath if we all spread the word about this like crazy. It is a precident that will protect us all from legal abuse by our own Goliaths in the future.
Twitter hashtages for this are: #boycottmonster and #monsterboycott.
About Continental Enterprises: The cease and desist letter posted on Rock Art’s website was from the IP law firm Knobbe Martens Olsen & Bear LLP. But in the course of investigatign this post, I came across Continental Enterprise’s site and found it enlightening with regard to how foolish litigation gets started in the first place.
This firm’s mentality seems to be an ideologic mix between RAMBO and Bin Laden. Take for example their mission: “To ensure that those who attempt to steal from our clients are left to wonder when, where and how we will strike next.” (WTF)
They claim to use the law to their advantage even when infringement is not clear to “to effectively disrupt infringers’ business and protect our clients’ publicity rights.”
They pride themselves in taking “novel and aggressive approach to brand protection and infringement issues. We understand that traditional litigation-focused strategies are not always a practical solution.” They go on to describe their tactics: “Asymmetrical warfare is at the heart of the non-traditional strategies we use to combat infringers”
Think about that. They say that traditional litigation (within the law) is not always the way to go. So they step outside and engage in “Asymmetrical warfare”. Guess what “Asymmetrical warfare” is? TERRORISM. Just what America needs more of.
This isn’t about Continental Enterprises as such: Its about a legal system and corporate mentality where a company that proports to protect brands could print this type of aggressive sales pitch and still find clients willing to hire them. I don’t think being prickly and aggressive works anymore. Sounds more like a formula for brand-repellant to me.
And while we on the topic of Trade Dress Protection, do you think The Travelers Insurance Company would approve of Continental Enterprise’s umbrella and slogan?