Lagunitas sues Sierra Nevada – then doesn’t

Craft brewery Lagunitas filed a lawsuit against fellow California brewer Sierra Nevada over the use of an “IPA” logo this week – then dropped the suit after a furious backlash.

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At the beginning of the week, Lagunitas’ founder and CEO, Tony Magee, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Sierra Nevada for the latter’s use of an “IPA” logo on its new “Hop Hunter” beer.

According to CNBC, Lagunitas claimed that the block capital lettering would: “Create confusion among consumers as to the origin of the IPA given that both designs are used in connection with craft brew India pale ale.”

Lagunitas also claimed to have created the acronym back in 1995 as a shorthand for India pale ale and was seeking damages, “treble to its actual damages or Sierra Nevada’s profits, whichever is greater.”

When the news broke the reaction on social media lambasted the case as “ridiculous” and “confusing”, while others said that Lagunitas should be “ashamed”.

Magee remained adamant he had a case, stating that Sierra Nevada’s well-known collaborations with other breweries may make it appear the two were working together on this latest beer.

“This was a meaningful infringement,” he said. Nonetheless, he subsequently dropped the suit following the backlash saying he had been “seriously schooled”.

“We don’t harbour any ill will toward Lagunitas brewing,” said Sierra Nevada in a statement, “and are pleased that we can get back to making great beers.”

The case comes soon after the news that the boom in craft brewing is leading to mounting trademark lawsuits between brewers over names and logos.

Lagunitas has previously had a run in with Atlanta-based SweetWater Brewing, after using the marijuana code “420” on its labels, something SweetWater took umbridge with having used the code on its labels for years before.

The suit was settled out of court.

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