Magic Hat Gives Their Side of “West Sixth Brewing Lawsuit” Story
As promised, we are presenting Magic Hat Brewing’s side of the story we published earlier, in which West Sixth Brewing asked the online beer community to help them defend themselves in a lawsuit against Magic Hat Brewing. Here is the official statement from Magic Hat. The Full Pint has been, and will remain a platform for craft brewers to voice their news, event info and in these circumstances, their opinion. Cheers!
After months of working in good faith, and receiving assurances that West Sixth Brewing would modify its marketing materials, Magic Hat Brewing was blindsided by a social media ambush that attempts to deflect West Sixth Brewing’s trademark infringements.
“West Sixth Brewing packaged the “perfect story” of a large brewery beating up on a small start-up,” said Ryan Daley, brand manager of Magic Hat. “The only problem is: it’s not true.”
Talks between the two breweries started in September of 2012 after marketplace concerns surfaced by a Kentucky wholesaler who refused to carry West Sixth Brewing because he felt it too closely resembled Magic Hat, which he already distributed. Magic Hat sales representatives, who came across the West Sixth Brewing products in the Ohio and South Carolina markets, also expressed concerns about the similarities.
“Our first step was to reach out to them. We hoped to handle it amicably. We had no desire to file a lawsuit against a fellow brewer,” said Daley. “We thought we had made a lot of progress with West Sixth. They agreed in principle to modify their design. And now they’re going back on their word, and are attempting to tarnish our image instead.”
In letters proposing a resolution to avoid a court case, West Sixth Brewing agreed to:
1. Remove the design element that mirrors Magic Hat’s #9 starburst/dingbat star packaging;
2. Use and promote the wording West Sixth Brewing in conjunction with the design (Magic Hat agrees that this will help eliminate confusion);
3. Work in good faith to phase out and replace any existing materials that may contain the prior version of the encircled “6” design;
4. Amend its current federal trademark application or re-file the application with the new design.
“After months of working with them, they abruptly changed their minds and refused to take the simplest steps to avoid confusion and a lawsuit,” said Daley. “Unfortunately, we have no other option but to pursue legal action that protects the uniqueness of our brand. We notified West Sixth Brewing and they immediately began a smear campaign to pressure us to drop the lawsuit. This is all very unfortunate since they could have prevented it by living up to the commitments they made.”
Magic Hat Brewing started brewing beer in Burlington, Vermont in 1994. West Sixth Brewing began brewing in 2012. Shortly after, Magic Hat started receiving calls from people who were concerned about similarities between the two brands. Media contact: Mary Beth Popp (716) 880-1433
June 3, 2013 @ 6:29 am
Where do you see anything about Magic Hat trying to own the Number “6”. They clearly state that West 6th is pretty much copying there logo. Not once did they say they want the number 6. How would you like to create a design and someone just come along and change a little color and take the number sign and change it to a star. Why would you ever side with West 6th on this unless you obviously work or where manipulated by them.
As for saying that you don’t believe in what Magic Hat says so your not going to buy their beer anymore. Who really cares Magic Hat has thousands of people that love there beer they don’t need you!
Oh, and last thing. West 6th had the chance. They knew what they did was wrong, and I think it is extremely funny that now West 6th is pretty much crying to the public for there own mistakes. Grow up!
May 28, 2013 @ 9:13 pm
Starting a social media campaign, when you misled the public into believing MH blindsided you with a lawsuit, is called being a fraud. I live in Lex. and I am astonished by the followers who believe any BS spewed to them by the local and regional media, who clearly are biased.
The designs are confusing and can be confused which is part of trademark property disputes. WS is full of it. Google their location and see how they have tried to control a neighborhood, buying up property so they can control, what and who, resides there. I think this is called class cleansing. I know on the weekends and after 5pm some residents have a hard time finding parking spaces near their homes for themselves and any guests they might have. Talk about corporate bullying….
May 23, 2013 @ 10:48 pm
The problem is all the lies West 6th told everybody. Their beer is OK, but you can’t just make stuff up and expect the courts to side with you.
May 22, 2013 @ 1:02 pm
yep this dude is right! brewing beer is all about the trademark ahahaha man i wish would have trademarked IPA a long time ago
May 22, 2013 @ 12:27 pm
I find it completely nuts that anyone sides with West 6th on this. Look at their logo. Look at Magic Hat’s logo. Would it be possible to confuse them? Absolutely. He even states that his customer confused the two and made a decision not to carry one of the beers, fearing that his customers would also confuse the two.
So there is a problem there. Why would Magic Hat not try to resolve the issue without lawyers first? Who in their right mind, other than a lawyer, would want to involve a lawyer in something if you have the option not too? Doesn’t matter how much money you have, it’s smart business to not spend cash on lawyers if you can avoid it.
I totally believe the Magic Hat guys and it sucks for West 6th because they have the change what they have done, but if Magic Hat doesn’t defend it’s marks, they lose them. If you are going to put all of your money into making beer, make sure that you aren’t doing it in a way that infringes on someone’s trademark or you will face the consequences. It’s also very underhanded to start a smear campaign against someone which has essentially devolved into “I don’t like Magic Hat’s beer, therefore this lawsuit is bullcrap”. It’s a legitimate lawsuit grounded in US trademark law. I doubt anyone who sided with West 6 would do anything differently if they were in Magic Hat’s position. If you create something valuable and trademark it, having someone use what you created to benefit their business is a bad feeling and no matter how big your company is, or how small, you must defend it or risk losing everything you built.
May 22, 2013 @ 11:13 am
So a Kentucky wholesaler refused to carry the West Sixth because of “concerns?” Um, but isn’t that GOOD for Magic Hat? And your sales reps expressed “concerns” because of similarities? Sounds like an excuse for not doing their jobs. So you want the number 6 too? How about both 8 & 10 since they’re so close to 9?
May 22, 2013 @ 12:35 am
Similarities do not constitute infringement. Star or no star, I know the difference between a 9 and a 6. The fact that Magic Hat feels that craft beer enthusiasts such as myself can’t make that distinction is downright insulting.
May 21, 2013 @ 7:58 pm
Yeah i don’t buy that either, won’t be buying anymore magic hat. Going to have to buy some west 6th for memorial day now!!
May 21, 2013 @ 7:09 pm
Not buying Magic Hat as victim. Even if factually true I’m glad West 6th, located on West 6th St, changed their mind. Magic hat can’t own 9, much less 6. If you cannot tell the difference, drink less beer. Magic Hat is trolling in other places as well: