Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6 | Bite Club

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Magic Hat Defends #9 Against a Beer Named 6

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Back when he was an assistant manager at Magic Hat Brewing Co., 7D music editor Dan Bolles and his then colleagues tried to push a fictional Magic Hat #6 on April Fools Day. "The joke was that it was a light version of #9, with one-third fewer calories," writes Bolles. "We even had fake logos made up with the number six mimicking the #9 artwork."

Bolles' prank was eerily prescient. Last week, Magic Hat filed an injunction against a year-old Kentucky craft brewer, defending one of its flagship beers, #9.

The complaint against West Sixth Brewing Company alleges that that brewery's beers, branded with the numeral 6, have a mark that's "confusingly and substantially similar" to #9, a beer Magic Hat has been making since 1995.

West Sixth was founded by four friends in spring 2012. Cofounder Ben Self, who lived in Vermont briefly during Howard Dean's presidential campaign, says his company wasn't trying to imitate Magic Hat. They chose the name because their brewery is located on, well, West Sixth Street. "We worked on it for a long time," he says of the logo, which features a swirly, encircled number 6 next to a star dingbat. It was created by the Lexington company Cricket Press. "From the beginning, we were very comfortable with our logo design," says Self.

Of Magic Hat, Self says, "I did approach them to come to a resolution, and they weren't interested in talking about it."

In a statement, Magic Hat brand manager Ryan Daley says that the company "reached out" to West Sixth last fall with zero desire to pursue a lawsuit. A series of letters dating from September 2012 shows that the two companies (through their respective lawyers) attempted to reach a compromise, which eventually fell apart.

Once Self and his partners learned of the legal action, they brought out the big guns: social media. Yesterday, they posted a treatise on their website that begins "Stop corporate bullying..." and makes a great flourish of the fact that Magic Hat, which was founded in Vermont, is now owned by a foreign company called Cerveceria Costa Rica. Magic Hat is going after West Sixth because of the Kentucky brewery's quick ascension, the post suggests. "Unfortunately, our success has also made us a few enemies. And this week, one of those enemies got so mad, they decided to try and force us out of business by filing a silly and frivolous lawsuit against us." It urges readers to sign a petition asking Magic Hat to back off.

No newbie to social media, Magic Hat took to its own Facebook page to counter what it sees as West Sixth's misleading narrative. "To all of our fans, don’t believe everything you hear," it reads, below a photo of both cans side by side. "We have been talking to them for months about the similarities between our marketing materials. They agreed in principle. Now they’re going back on their word, and ambushing us with a smear campaign."

The dispute has moved from attorneys' letters to blogs and, since yesterday, a few people have attempted to vandalize Magic Hat's Wikipedia page, making reference to its "frivolous" lawsuit against West Sixth. West Sixth's owners have collected 10,000 signatures and are seemingly using their blog to communicate and negotiate with Magic Hat.

And so, episode two of this week's trademark infringement saga inches on...

CORRECTION: The work "copyright" in the last sentence has been changed to "trademark."

Photo from Magic Hat's Facebook page

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

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact web@sevendaysvt.com.

About The Author

Corin Hirsch

Corin Hirsch

Bio:
Corin Hirsch was a Seven Days food writer from 2011 through 2016. She is the author of Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, published by History Press in 2014.

More By This Author

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

 

Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Bite Club

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation