November 2017. Canada’s Moosehead Breweries has filed an opposition with a court in Vermont against the smaller Hop ’N Moose brewery, whose trademark it feels is too close to its own.
Moosehead is demanding that the smaller company not only stop using the name Hop ’N Moose but also that it withdraws the illustration of a moose from its logo. Moosehead was established in 1931 and has no intention of allowing its own venerable trademark to be diluted by rival mooses.
If you want to maintain the exclusivity of your trademark, you’ll need to do what Moosehead did, since if others imitate it, it will lose its distinctive capacity. And before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by more mooses on the beer shelves and it’ll be difficult to defend your brand against them.
Moosehead’s sharp response was a foregone conclusion given its previous history. In 2016, for example, it brought proceedings against the Moose Wizz brand, which wasn’t even being used for beer but for an alcohol-free soda. Nevertheless, Moosehead prevailed because these days many brewers also make soft drinks.
Moosehead’s robust trademark policy does occasionally strike us as somewhat overzealous. At the beginning of 2016, for instance, it tried to ban the Müs Knuckle trademark for beer, even though it’s quite a far cry from Moosehead. To our knowledge, though, Müs Knuckle hasn’t thrown in the towel yet…