Coronado Brewing asked to stop using the name, “Stoopid”

Coronado Stupid Stout label crop

(Coronado, CA) – Coronado Brewing Co. received label approval this week indicating that the company may be changing the name of one of its longtime beers.

The labels, applicable to both bottles and draft, display the name, “Stupid Stout,” instead of the currently used “Stoopid Stout.” Coronado Brewing reps didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, BeerPulse broke the news that Coronado had sued Elysian Brewing for allegedly infringing on its trademark for “Idiot,” used in the beer, “Idiot IPA.” The lawsuit, which was voluntary dismissed shortly after the report, will lead to Elysian changing the name of “Idiot Sauvin IPA” to “Savant IPA.”

After the report, a fan shared a link on the brewery’s Facebook page to a band named, “Slightly Stoopid,” with the comment, “You might want to check this out, I think a band is cashing in on your stout. Time to lawyer up.”

Coronado Brewing replied, “we actually were just asked to stop calling our stout ‘Stoopid’ because another brewery has it trademarked. You do the math…”

Records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that Lagunitas Brewing successfully registered a mark for “Hop Stoopid Ale” in 2011.

When asked about Coronado’s comment, Lagunitas Founder and Owner, Tony Magee, declined to elaborate on communication between the two companies regarding use of the “Stoopid” mark.

Reviews for Lagunitas Hop Stoopid date back to early 2007. Reviews for Coronado Stoopid Stout date back to early 2008. Lagunitas’ beer is widely available across the U.S. with the ratio of reviews outnumbering Coronado’s beer by a 71:1 ratio.

Both breweries are based in California.

Only one other brewery in the U.S. has used the name, “Stoopid,” in a beer and that’s Rocky River Brewing in Cleveland, according to RateBeer. Reviews are only for a brief time period in 2008 and it appears to no longer be available.

Will Coronado run into trouble with the word, “Stupid?”

The RateBeer database shows no widely available beers using the term. Stupid Water has it trademarked for the “bottled water” class of goods (different from beer obviously) though companies occasionally do take issue with usage across beverage categories.

19 thoughts on “Coronado Brewing asked to stop using the name, “Stoopid”

  1. Slightly Stoopid has been around for over a decade – if anyone should be getting upset about the name, it’s them.

  2. Class of goods matters though. There’s a good reason why “Monster” should be able to be used for both television cables and energy drinks. No one will confuse the two.

  3. I assume a band name would be in a different trademark classification then a beer, so the band couldn’t do much about it.

  4. Who cares? Calling your beer or your band “stupid” or worse “stoopid” is well…you know…

  5. Trademarks are intended, structured and enforced for preventing confusion in the marketplace. As has been said, if the products bearing the similar names are in different product categories there is no actual risk of confusion for the consumer.

  6. I got referenced in the article, with bringing up. Slightly Stoopid. I was annoyed with how things went down with Elysian, so I was being a jackass to Coronado. I had originally planned to do a series of “_______ stole your name, lawyer up!” posts. I was gonna reference Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid in that first post, but had decided that it’d be best not to drag in a brewery I love.

    This whole trademark thing is ridiculous, but unfortunately I don’t see the shenanigans ending anytime soon. New craft breweries are born every month, and with the creativity involved, someone is bound to step on some other brewery’s toes. The industry will eventually have to adopt a new depth of common sense when it comes to dealing with the prospect of “brand confusion.”

  7. Welcome, Matt. Didn’t know that you were a regular reader. Small world.

    You’re right that this issue is going to be a regular occurrence (and therefore, regularly reported). In my new post about a C&D from Jack Daniels, I make the case for why companies should craft these legal documents with the possibility (or even expectation) that they will be scrutinized in the public eye.

    Thanks for the comment.

  8. Even if Coronado isn’t too happy with people bringing up the whole thing with Elysian on the Facebook page to the point of deleting some posts… it’s kind of surprising people who actually work for the Coronado are insulting and liking posts of people insulting the people who are angry about the whole ordeal. Very classy.

  9. Well Adam, in the case of a similar or even identical (but somewhat generic) name such as stoopid, unless they are in the same category, there is no legal basis for claiming a trademark issue. They could send a cease-and-desist for a product in another category, but the reciepient could safely ignore it since a claim like that would never hold up in court.

    The Jack Daniel’s case however has basis, even though whiskey and novels are obviously not the same thing. The reason is that it is a copyright infringement issue, not a trademark issue.

    Note that the letter identifies the infringement as being for the “style and distinctive elements” found in the book’s artwork. That would be the filligree, colors and layout/design on the JD label. That is unique artwork which is protected by copyright. In this case the filligree is clearly traced directly from JD’s label, cut-and-dry copyright infringement. If it had gone to court, the publisher would have settled quick, or if they were stupid, lost just as quick.

    While the letter does mention trademarks, in this case that refers to the specific products on which the copyright-holder’s designs are to be found. There are no trademarks being damaged, or used at all, on the book-cover.

    JD were nice about it and offered to help the publisher with making the changes, which might be heartfelt, but is also a lot better than coming across as the evil alcohol-empire putting the hammer down on a small publisher.

    If the JD case had been a trademark issue, I think the tone would have been somewhat less polite. As has been noted countless times in these discussions, registered trademarks are subject to ‘degradation’ if not protected, and while that doesn’t mean you have to be a dick about it, it does mean that you have to actively protect it.

    In the case of copyright, JD can’t really claim much in terms of damages or loss of licencing, which is what they would potentially be going to court for, so I tend to believe that is why they “let it slide”. And in the end, there is no risk of their copyright being devalued by that choice.

    I would say that when recieving a cease-and-desist, companies can either take it personally or they can be professionals and act like grown-ups. If they feel it is unfair or incorrect, those issues can probably be solved by picking up the phone, not by reposting the letters and crying about it on their websites.

  10. But even if the other party does act like ‘grown ups,’ it may surface publicly (it certainly would here if it’s newsworthy) at which point you’re bound to get some people that don’t act like grown ups.

  11. It may, and I’m not saying that it can’t be a newsworthy story. I’m saying that if it is handled correctly it doesn’t have to be a big deal. There have been a lot of stories lately that (IMO) illustrate a lack of professionalism amongst some brewers who have been on the recieving end of what is essentially a reality check.

    The US Trademark system is slow and painful, but playing along with it is part of doing any business that involves selling goods and building a brand. If you don’t do your homework, you shouldn’t be surprised to get a letter telling you that you need to change the name of one of your products.

    Is it really nice when people take time out of their day to be friendly and send a personalized letter explaining their point of view and why they have taken the steps that they have, sure. But, I really don’t understand why brewers are held to some imaginary standard of politeness in business dealings.

  12. It comes from all of the talk of camaraderie among these small brewers. If this is the vision that they all want us to have, it would behoove them to deal with each other in a way that merits that vision, even behind closed doors. If they don’t and those doors unexpectedly swing wide open…trouble.

    With more of these types of posts, people will calm down with some of the reactions (I hope). It’s just that we’re paving a road here. This type of reporting is common when it comes to Apple but not small brewer X. Will be a tough adjustment period but ultimately, I hope that the industry is more accountable and comes out better for it.

    Cheers!

  13. I think that the issue of trademark is going to be a huge distraction in craft beer in the years to come. While we can discuss nuances in the application of litigation, the problem is that our legal system is ill equipped to deal with the entire matter.

    Law and precedence have been developed over long periods of time. I’d argue that the problem is that that our framework of dealing with intellectual property has never been applied to something as complex as craft beer. The sheer number of the products involved is staggering. There are thousands of craft breweries and often those breweries have developed and named dozens of products. Throw in a complex system of distribution where beers from Seattle, Petaluma, and Coronado can end up on the same shelf, and “brand confusion” is made a semi-viable issue. (Not that any craft beer drinker would confuse a stout with a wicked awesome imperial IPA)

    In the letter of the law, I don’t think there’s ever been such potential for inadvertent trademark infringement. (Just spend ten minutes on Beer Advocate and see how many common words have been used by completely unrelated breweries)

    It can be cathartic to call out douchebaggery and make a brewery the “bad guy”, but I think we’ll need to learn that we shouldn’t hate the player, but hate the game.

  14. Pingback: Best of… week of July 23 « a little legal blog…

Leave a Reply