Magic Hat calls BS on West Sixth’s media campaign after lawsuit

magic hat west sixth cans

UPDATE: West Sixth submitted a response to Magic Hat’s PR on Wednesday morning.

Press Release:

(Burlington, VT) – 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.

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45 thoughts on “Magic Hat calls BS on West Sixth’s media campaign after lawsuit

  1. I think this is crazy, magic hat you lost market share on your own by making a lesser quality beer, also west 6 logo is bright green the orange is only on the amber

  2. Pingback: Magic Hat Sues West 6th St. For Logo Infringement - Page 3 - Beer Forum - Beer, Brewpub, Brewery & Beer Industry Forums

  3. I don’t see any merit to Magic Hat’s claims. I guess the courts will get to decide. I wish I was o the jury!

  4. Magic Hat equals bad beer. West Sixth has a far superior product. Spend your money on a new Brewmaster!

  5. Pingback: West Sixth Brewing says it is being sued by Magic Hat parent for allegedly copying #9 logo | BeerPulse

  6. OMG they both come in alumimun can-shaped cylinders, with a single digit taking up half the height of the can, how in the heck could I ever tell them apart? Oh yeah now I remember, I have never really liked anything in any kind of vessel which had the words magic and hat on it. So glad we solved that mystery, being a consumer of good beer is so freaking confusing, right?

  7. Everyone wants to say what’s good and what’s bad beer wise. Not the point. Take your blinkers off. I could care less about Magic Hat. I’m bort stinking it unless it’s my only and best choice, i.e., it’s between that and BMC. Additionally, I’m not for these brewery law suits as a general rule. However, I’m a realist and can look at this and say, “yes, I get it.”

  8. I envision a collaborative “peace” beer between the two breweries. It’s called “69″. It would sell like hotcakes!

  9. Regardless of whether you can tell the difference or not, the logo is a complete rip off.

  10. Bad form, Magic Hat. Bad form. West Sixth offered to make adjustments so that even a moron could differentiate them, yet you sued them anyway. I hope you lose.

  11. Magic Hat seems to be projecting some evil motive onto West Sixth. More likely, West Sixth is not budging because they are justifiably sure that Magic Hat has an incredibly weak case.

  12. The logos are NOT “similar”…this is a bogus lawsuit and it’s a strong-arm tactic by Magic Hat. Pathetic…and sadly Magic Hat is getting bad advice, or they’re just bad people. Magic Hat doesn’t hold a trademark on a circle logo with a number in it, and W6′s logo looks NOTHING like theirs. I’ll never buy Magic Hat again for this stunt they’re pulling…
    Craft? Nope….but it’s crafty.

  13. Magic Hat is disgusting beer. Plus I don’t really see any similarities.

  14. The problem is customers & distributors have already noticed the similarities and have refused one beer.(this time 6, but next time it could be 9) Magic Hat is right to protect its brand. Also…no Jimi Hendrix reference yet? shame.

    “If 6 turned out to be 9, I’ll be fine, I”ll be fine”

  15. The documents released by Magic Hat demonstrate that this is a craven attempt to deflect criticism and play the victim. West Sixth only agreed to add wording to all appearances of their logo, and to phase out all instances of the logo that appear without the wording. Magic Hat is lying, and I would post the link to the documents to prove it, but when I did before, it got deleted. Just search for the I Stand By West Sixth Brewing facebook page to see the letters in question. They leave no doubt that Magic Hat is untrustworthy in relaying the actual facts of the situation.

  16. If I was West Sixth (and if I had the money to do so) I’d fight this. There are some vague similarities in typeface (although they are most certainly not the same) and the inclusion of a star shape, but aside of that there is no reason anyone with an intelligence quotient above third-grade level couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

  17. Come on West Sixth! Are you guys crazy?? The #9 logo is one of the most ubiquitous in all of craft beer and you ripped it off! I don’t agree with Magic Hat’s harsh lawsuit, but you guys had this coming. Best of luck to the underdog, but you should have changed the logo.

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  20. Bogus. If the number had been a 7, would it have been ok then? I’m sure they didn’t start a business on west 6th street just to copy a logo. I’ve never had either beer, doesn’t matter. There is no confusion among branding here. Any reasonable person can see that.

  21. I guess if numbers and basic shapes are copyright infringement, 4loco, Ale 8, V8 and Coke zero are next on the list. Watch your back Sesame Street, you better not have a show brought to us by the number 9.

  22. Magic Hat must think craft beer drinking consumers are illiterate or don’t look closely at the products they’re buying.

    Their beer is DEFINITELY NOT what it was say 15 years ago! Where it was once about the beer it’s all about numbers. When you’re not hitting them, I guess you go after the little guy.

    Regardless of the outcome – it’s definitely a no win for Magic Hat. They’ll forever, have left a bitter taste in many consumer mouths….except maybe frat boys.

    I’ve never had West 6th Street as it’s not available in my home state or anywhere nearby.

  23. The trademark application specifically states that they are not claiming color as a part of the trademark. So to say that a 6 is the same as a 9 is ridiculous.

  24. I agree, that while the cans look obvious differently, if saw those taps handle with just a circle and the 6 I would assume it was related to #9 and brewed by Magic Hat (due to the long use on taps of that Circle and Numeral trademark symbol) not by West 6th Brewing. Magic Hat has good cause and it is sad to see West 6th, who design elements are clearly inspired by Magic Hat, play dirty after the papers show Magic Hat clearly trying to be reasonable.

  25. Magic Hat is 100% in the right here. I usually stick up for the little guy, but West Sixth’s logo is clearly infringing, and they were given a chance to correct it without penalty. Instead of thanking Magic Hat for the opportunity, they refuse to comply and start a whiny possibly defamatory anti-Magic Hat PR campaign.

    If you don’t think *you* would confuse these two beers for each other, just imagine if you sent a friend or relative who doesn’t do beer or doesn’t care to get either of these two beers- I’ll bet if they were side by side, 40% of time said friend or relative would bring you back the wrong beer. Plus, imagine the folks who will see the similarity of the two beers and assume that Magic Hat is extending their 9 brand to other styles and have an IPA called 6. I mean, it’s not only a number, which is rare in the beer world, but a very similar looking number, with the same sort of hippy/60s/psychedelic type style of art work. Then there’s potential retailer confusion resulting in the wrong beer getting stocked, and people maybe not having the opportunity to buy what they intend to buy, and possibly buying the similar looking substitute (Unfairly enriching West Sixth), etc.. Trust me, some beer retailers don’t know beer, don’t want to know beer, and do not pay any attention to what they stock (I’ve seen one product get replaced with another similar looking product and then go back to the original several times, presumably from the store not noticing that they were sent the wrong thing).

    I’m going to buy myself a 12 pack of Magic Hat next month just for West Sixth. ;) I hope Magic Hat sues them out of existence. Giving them a chance to correct their error was the right thing to do on Magic Hat’s part. Since they’ve thrown in back in Magic Hat’s face and tried to damage Magic Hat’s brand nationally with false or misleading comments, I think it’s time for Magic Hat to squash them.

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  28. Talk about a PR campaign back-firing! Magic Hat hoped to arouse sympathy with this press release, but all they’re getting is hate mail. This is a truly frivolous lawsuit and I hope West Sixth stands up to them! I actually like Magic Hat’s product, but I will be urging my friends and coworkers to stop buying their drinks because of this suit.

  29. I loved (notice past tense) Magic Hat, especially lately with their rotating IPA series. But, this has ensured I will no longer purchase this beer.

    I love how a once lovable micro brewery has now turned into a President Taft sized macro brewery and is now using global corporate dollars to hurt a lovable micro brewery.

  30. For the record, whoever wrote this article displays some seriously shoddy journalistic practices. Notice how the conclusion of the opening sentence reads, “…attempts to deflect West Sixth Brewing’s trademark infringements.” Now, I’m not a lawyer (though I am working on a Ph.D.), but the word “alleged” should’ve been included in that sentence. West Sixth hasn’t legally been found guilty of any trademark violations yet, and the language of the piece should properly reflect that.
    But, as written, it looks like the article is intentionally being sympathetic to Magic Hat’s claims and therefore portraying partisan bias.

  31. what a bunch of hypocrites. doesn’t magic hat know they ripped off mountain dew’s color scheme for their hicu beer? hope I don’t go reaching for a MD and accidentally grab that toilet water

  32. If you’re confused by these two marks, you probably can’t tell the difference between a BMW and a Mercedes Benz either. Magic Hat must count on idiots for a good chunk of their market share.

  33. You know that this isn’t the first time. They threatened lawsuit on Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing for their “9lb Porter”. Magic Hat seems to think they own that number.

  34. The merits of the lawsuit may be 50-50 but West Sixth’s tactics are slimy. They sent the whole world a petition that contained blatant lies about Magic Hat. Sorry, I don’t care if you’re playing the David vs Goliath victim card, you can’t just tell the general public big ole lies and expect sympathy. By whipping the public into a frenzy by telling flat out untruths it begs the question, who exactly is bullying who? Also, their beer isn’t anything that special (I’ve been since I live in Louisville).

  35. Magic Hat’s trademark is simply for a plain “#9″ as reflected in the documents they published. The only reason the logos look similar is because of similar font, which I would guess (definitely not sure, just my presumption) would not be protected by trademark law. Also, the exchanged letters between the two breweries that Magic Hat offered to the public actually reflect better on West Sixth, IMO. But the campaign is over and the rest of the matter should be handled privately. However, Magic Hat is just as culpable in bringing this to the public by hiring this brand manager and getting an EXTREMELY BIASED article published on beerpulse.com.

  36. Lee, not sure if I understand what you mean. There’s really not a huge difference between those brands. Both are French and both are owned by the same company.

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