Pin It

Monster Mash 

Side Dishes: Local brewer fights a big brand

click to enlarge foodnews-monsterdrink.jpg

On September 14, just six days before his birthday, Matt Nadeau, owner of Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, received an unusual email. Attached to it was a PDF full of legalese in which an attorney for the Hansen Beverage Company — maker of Monster brand energy drinks — demanded that the Vermont brewery “cease and desist” its use of the name “Vermonster” for a high-test barley wine. “Your client’s use and registration of the Vermonster in connection with beer will undoubtedly create a likelihood of confusion and/or dilute the distinctive quality of Hansen’s Monster marks,” the document reads. Nadeau was given two weeks to respond.

Nadeau, who holds the “Vermonster” trade name in Vermont, thinks the letter was probably triggered by his application to trademark it nationally. “I don’t get those people out there in California,” he says. Given that Nadeau sells about 95 percent of his beer “within 50 miles of Morrisville,” the feisty brewer says he fails to see how giving a single product a name that’s a play on its home state could damage a massive corporation making a completely different type of beverage.

So Nadeau called to offer a concession: He would promise to stay out of the energy-drink biz if Hansen stayed out of brewing. No luck. “Their third-party lawyer … believes they’ll likely pursue lawsuits and [proceedings against] trademark infringement,” Hansen says.

Simply continuing to pursue his trademark application against Monster’s opposition could cost Nadeau up to $15,000. And he’s willing to take the matter to court — an even pricier proposition — if necessary, he says. For one thing, five trademark lawyers located all over the country have told him he’ll probably win in the end. More importantly, adds the brewer, it’s a matter of principle: “They have no morals,” he says of the beverage giant. “They think, We’re just gonna steamroll it … We’ll take this little Vermont company and squash them. Well, sorry.”

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Suzanne Podhaizer

About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose,... more


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

foodie poll

What are you MOST interested in learning more about?

  • Food-related events, festivals and other gatherings
  • Bars and restaurants — where should I eat out?
  • Farms and agriculture — what's up with the people producing our food?
  • Issues: What are the social, environmental and economic impacts of my food choices?
  • How to cook better meals at home

View Results

Latest in Food News

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation