So … we just received a letter from an attorney representing one of our favorite craft breweries; this letter informed us that we need to change the name of our Three Hearted Ale kit in a hurry. We’d love to hear your suggestions!
Yup. Bell’s Brewery sent our friends at Northern Brewer a cease and desist letter regarding the their Three Hearted Ale kit, a recipe kit styled after Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
Bell’s owns the trademark for Two Hearted Ale and as such is charged with protecting that mark from others that might dilute or tarnish that name. Most of the time, trademark issues aren’t purely black and white, as is the case with the Three Hearted Ale kit. Bell’s (or rather their lawyer(s)) decide what they see as a threat to the mark and what they see as something that they can let slide. As The Gambler once said, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, [and]] know when to fold ’em…”
In Bell’s case, they may have been better off just folding. Though Northern Brewer’s Facebook post was extremely kind, others comments haven’t been so kind, with some even suggesting a boycott of Bell’s beer. I understand Bell’s position, but not without a dose of skepticism. On the PR side, it looks just plain ugly watching a large and well-regarded brewery go after perhaps the best homebrew retailer in the country. It make me wonder if they weighed the negative publicity before sending the letter.
On the upside, our friend’s at Northern Brewer will no doubt receive plenty of free press on the issue and no doubt a little business as well. Bell’s, on the other hand, might want to take a breather and re-read Hemmingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River” again.
“Nick slipped off his pack and lay down in the shade. He lay on his back and looked up into the pine trees. His neck and back and the small of his back rested as he stretched. The earth felt good against his back. He looked up at the sky, through the branches, and then shut his eyes. He opened them and looked up again. There was a wind high up in the branches. He shut his eyes again and went to sleep.”
Update: Here’s a link to Bell’s position on the issue (Thanks Ben). It’s certainly kind, though it somewhat reads like it was written by a lawyer, go figure.