(Boston, MA) – The first update on the Bear Republic – Central City Brewing lawsuit in four months . . .
Back in February, news broke that Bear Republic would be taking Central City Brewing to court over alleged trademark infringement on its Racer 5 and Red Rocket brands.
The lawsuit is still in its early stages though we’ve got our first taste of what is to come. Bear Republic filed for a preliminary injunction in May. What does that mean? The brewery wanted Central City to cease all activities pertaining to the “infringing” Red Racer brand while the lawsuit was in process. The court ruled against Bear Republic’s request for injunction.
The request, in its own right, shows that Bear Republic means business. Per Wikipedia, to be granted the injunction, Bear Republic is arguing all four of the following:
1) Substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case,
2) BR faces substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted,
3) It is more harmful to BR if not granted injunction than it is to Central City if granted injunction
4) Grant of injunction serves the public interest
According to the legal document filed by the court, Bear Republic’s argument for confusion between the two brands was not particularly compelling, knocking out criteria #1.
In addition, Bear Republic failed to assert that instances of confusion cited so far caused any harm such as loss of sales. The court has found that the three moments of confusion cited by BR aren’t enough to extrapolate confusion to the general population either and that BR failed to show any financial harm as a result of these instances. Also of note, Bear Republic sales were up 16% last year despite Central City Red Racer being available for all of 2009. The end result is that BR hasn’t made a compelling case for criteria #2 or #3 either.
As for criteria #4, the court says “The public interest is best served by fair competition in the marketplace. Since Bear Republic has not shown a likelihood of succeeding on the merits in establishing its infringement claims, to enjoin Central City from selling RED RACER in the United States would not serve the public interest.”
Looks like a clean sweep for Central City. Now the question is whether Bear Republic will swallow its pride and give up or push forward in its battle against the small Canadian brewery.
[Ed. note: Hat tip to Beer in BC for the link.]