Colombians fight to keep Simpsons beer

Two Colombian brothers have become embroiled in a legal battle with 20th Century Fox over the right to produce beer inspired by animated TV series The Simpsons.

Oscar and Alvaro Ballesteros. Credit: AFP/Getty

According to AFP, brothers Alvaro (31) and Oscar (26) Ballesteros sold their first bottles of Duff beer, named after the beer Homer Simpson drinks on the show, in Bogota bars in 2009.

The company has since been forced to change its name to DuH Beer, as the pair of stylised “f”s on the bottle label could also be interpreted as a capital “h”.

20th Century Fox, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, has sued the brothers for copyright infringement in Colombia.

“The fact that 20th Century Fox does not have such a product in the market does not mean the Ballesteros’ can take advantage of a brand,” said Alicia Lloreda, a Colombian attorney with the local affiliate of News Corp.

Fox want the product to be taken off the market because the Duff brand does not belong to the Ballesteros brothers.

Government regulators agreed with 20th Century Fox last week and ordered the brothers to cease production, distribution and sales of the beer in Colombia.

Credit: AFP/Getty

Sales of the beer in Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and New Zealand have also been halted, though Duff Sudamerica attorney Santiago Mora will appeal the decision.

“We’re not going to let ourselves be frightened by a multinational. We’re going to fight a battle that is just starting. We will defend our rights,” said Mora.

Alvaro Ballesteros insists they are not copying 20th Century Fox’s brand.

“It appears only in cartoons, in a fictional world. Here in Colombia we trademarked it and produced it first,” he said.

In 2007 the brothers founded Duff Sudamerica in Bogota, registering the trademark in 2008.

The microbrewed Golden Ale, which was on sale in eight Colombian cities, with a national production of 24,000 units a month before the sales ban last week, cost between US$4-6.

In April, German brewer Duff Beer UG filed a suit with the European Union’s general court in Luxembourg to allow it to register an EU trademark for for Homer Simpson’s favourite brew.

The Legendary Duff Beer went on sale at the Adventure Bar in Covent Garden in July.

News Corp. won an Australian court case stopping another producer selling Duff beer – that looked like the fictional brand – in 1996.

One Response to “Colombians fight to keep Simpsons beer”

  1. Damian says:

    Not the first or second time this has come up. There was also Duff’s in Dunedin New Zealand.
    They were forced (with some assistance) to change their name to McDuffs in 2001. The brewer’s name was actually Duff so there was some legitimate claim to the name, but I don’t think it was ever labelled to look like the cartoon beer.

    The brewery appears to be for sale at the moment too. http://www.bizoptions.com/11708.htm

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