By Alan Keays, VTDigger
The largest independent Canadian beer company says a small Rutland brewery has stolen its moose.
Moosehead Breweries Limited, based in Saint John, New Brunswick, sued the Hop’n Moose Brewing Co. last week in federal court in Vermont, alleging trademark infringement.
The Canadian firm alleges that the moose image the downtown Rutland brewpub uses is too similar to the moose head with antlers the larger company uses in its logos and branding materials.
The lawsuit asks for a jury trial and wants Hop’n Moose ordered to hand over any profits it has made while using the moose image. It also wants the Rutland company to stop using the image and to “deliver up and/or destroy” all trademark infringing products.
The filing also demands that Hop’n Moose stop using the domain address for its website, hopnmoose.com.
According to the lawsuit, the Canadian company has used “The Moosehead mark” since at least 1931 in connection with its ale, beer, stout, porter and lager, and from the 1970s with its other consumer products, such as drinking glasses and T-shirts.
The Hop’n Moose Co. has used its image of a moose on beer and promotional materials since March 2014 when it opened as Rutland’s first brewery, “several decades” after Moosehead had begun using its “Moosehead” mark, the lawsuit says.
Also, according to the lawsuit, the beers are or may be “advertised, marketed, and promoted through the same media” channels, resulting in consumers who could be “confused, misled, or deceived” into thinking the Hop’n Moose products are products of Moosehead.
The company says it has made “repeated and numerous demands” to the Hop’n Moose Co. to stop using the moose image, to no avail.
Dale Patterson, the owner of Hop’n Moose, could not be reached Friday for comment.
However, in an interview with a Canadian newspaper late last year after getting a letter from Moosehead, Patterson said he chose the animal for the brewery’s logo because growing up in Quebec his family often went moose hunting.
“It represents something significant about where I’m from,” he told the National Post.
He also told the newspaper he didn’t believe there was any confusion between his brewpub and Moosehead.
Moosehead, Canada’s oldest and largest independent brewery, has in recent years brought trademark infringement actions against other breweries and brewpubs. In some cases, the targeted companies have complied with “cease and desist” demands, while others have ended up in court, with differing results.
In one example close to Vermont, The Mooselick Brewing Co. in Troy, New Hampshire, changed its name last year to Granite Roots Brewing after Moosehead sent the company a notice to stop using the moose image, according to a report in New Hampshire’s Union Leader.
In the lawsuit against the Rutland brewpub, Moosehead listed several of its federally registered moose-related trademarks for a variety of beers and other products.
“Moosehead has spent and continues to spend large sums of money in the promotion, advertisement, and sale of its goods bearing its MOOSE family of trademarks,” according to the lawsuit.
“By reason of such advertising and the high quality of its products carrying such trademarks, Moosehead enjoys a valuable goodwill and an enviable reputation with respect to its trademarks and the goods associated therewith.”
David M. Pocius, an attorney with the Burlington firm Paul Frank + Collins PC, is representing Moose-head in the lawsuit. He could not be reached Friday for comment.
“I spent my whole life laughing at U.S. litigation and lawsuits,” Patterson said in the National Post article. “Here I am being sued by a Canadian company.”