This entry has little to do with the Canadian beer scene, but I’m sure similar events could happen here. So I’m gonna post this little blurb that may also sounds like a rant.
Over the past week there has been commotion in the US beer community about the Hansen Beverage Company (creator of Monster Energy Drink) bullying Rock Art Brewery, a modest Vermont microbrewery. The dispute is over the word ‘Monster’ contained in the name for one of Rock Art’s brews.
The confrontation between a beverage giant and the Vermont microbrewer began with a cease and desist letter received by Rock Art Brewery on September 14th. In this letter, Hansen’s legal representatives basically ask that Rock Art forfeit the use of ‘Vermonster’ trademark and pay all legal expenses in pursuing the matter. Matt Nadeau, the owner of Rock Art Brewery, responded with an offer to stay out of the energy drink market if Hansen stays out of the beer market, only to receive a response indicating that Hansen is not concerned about energy drinks and wants to get into beer (BB: cheesy energy beer commercials to follow?).
In the beginning of October, the story started to hit the local Vermont media resulting in mild disgust and removal of Hansen’s products from the shelves of local businesses. By the second week of October, the story hit blogs across the United States, spawned a Facebook group supporting Rock Art and an abundance of tweets from outraged beer lovers easily found by #monsterboycott hash tag.
While the story is still picking up steam, Hansen has been slow to react to the uproar in the social media. A statement was released by the company on Oct 14th indicating, in boring legal jibba, that the company cares so much about their brand and has an obligation to stakeholders…yawn…to vigorously defend itself and so on and so forth.
If Hansen Beverage Co. is keen on entering the beer market, why don’t they just BUY Rock Art Brewery? It’s a small brewery employing about 10 people including the owner.
The story is still young and could result in costly legal proceedings, which could probably put Rock Art out of business. Personally I hope that the story begins to spread via social media, and leads to absolutely horrible publicity for Hansen causing them to forfeit the case. What’s interesting is that Rock Art is not the only entity against which Hansen plots legal action. Recently a beverage review site received a threatening letter from Hansen’s legal representatives in response to a negative review of Hansen’s product.
I don’t know about you, but Hansen’s bullying will prevent me from buying any of their products in the future. Monster Energy gives me the shits anyway.
Resources relevant to the story:
Timeline of events – http://beernews.org/2009/10/timeline-rock-art-vs-monster-energy/
Facebook group – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=171894902802
Seattle blog outlining the lawsuit – http://blog.seattlepi.com/whatsontap/archives/182180.asp?from=blog_last3
Rock Art Brewery – http://www.rockartbrewery.com/