(Morrisville, VT) – The stream of support for Rock Art Brewery continues on Twitter today as over 3,000 tweets have poured in over the last 30 hours. All tweets voice opposition to Hansen Beverage Co. for the ‘cease and desist’ order it sent to the small Vermont brewery. Hansen’s alleges that Rock Art is infringing on the trademark of its own Monster brand products.
At least 34 other beers have contained the word, “Monster,” at one point according to Beer Advocate so this case could have implications for other breweries attempting to trademark those beers, especially where Hansen’s is exploring entry into the alcohol market.
How did we get to this point? Here is a timeline of the events:
7/11/07 – Hansen Beverage Co. files two trademark applications for “Monster Energy” under the categories: “Non-alcoholic beverages, namely, energy drinks, excluding perishable beverage products that contain fruit juice or soy.” and “Nutritional Supplements.”
6/23/09 – Rock Art Brewery files a trademark application for “The Vermonster” under the category of “beer.” The brewery began selling the beer in 2007.
9/14/09 – A cease and desist letter arrives to Rock Art Owner, Matt Nadeau asking that Nadeau end its use of the mark and pay Hansen all legal fees in pursuing the matter. Diane Reed of Knobbe Martens Olson and Bear LLP, who represents Hansen Beverage Co. in legal matters, is handling the case. [FULL TEXT PDF courtesy of Green Mountain Daily]
Late Sept./Early Oct. – Nadeau offers “to stay out of energy drinks with The Vermonster, if they leave him alone in beer.” According to Nadeau, “Their lawyer stated that they are not concerned with energy drinks, that Monster wants to now get into beer,” and will likely continue to pursue action against Rock Art.
10/1 – The Stowe Reporter prints the first article on the subject [must register for access] with comments from Reed. Jesse Roman also gets comments from, Doug Riley, Trade Attorney:
“It usually spins out in the end in favor of the Vermont company, because it ends up being very bad for public relations” for the corporation, Riley said. “What I’ve seen happen — where the likable company is the good guys, with a homegrown local Vermont product, and on the other side is this big, faceless, conglomerate corporation — is usually the corporation will back off. It’s bad for publicity, and the Vermont company is really not a threat.”
“Lawyers tell them they must do this; if they don’t establish their rights to a trademark, it could be lost,” he said.
10/7 – The story picks up traction with more appearances in both Vermont and national newspapers. A major Vermont tv station, WCAX, also features it on its evening newscast [video here]. Dozens of national blogs also pick it up over the next week.
10/8 – Lukas Payette and Jeff Baker start a Facebook group in support of Rock Art Brewery against Monster Energy drinks. Several local businesses have removed Monster Energy Drink or Hansen Beverage Co. products altogether.
10/9 – In response to a now-deleted comment from Baker on the Official Monster Energy Drink Facebook Fan Page, a company representative replies, “Nobody cares, get a life.” To this date, it is one of the only, if not the only, public response on the matter from someone inside Hansen/Monster.
10/14 – Nadeau releases a 6-minute video on Youtube describing the history of Rock Art Brewery and his thoughts on the situation with Hansen Beverage Co. The video goes viral and is now easily the highest-rated brewery video ever on YouTube with over 320 votes and a 5-star average.
10/15 – Payette and Baker’s Facebook group now stands at 7,000 strong. Over 3,000 tweets have come through on the subject in the last 30 hours with memes such as #monsterboycott (nearly 2,000 tweets first started by @martinbowling).