Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 4:30 p.m.
Bites and brews at Northbound brewpub: Who has the right to be true north?
There's a bit of a battle going on between two local breweries, but oddly enough it's got nothing to do with beer.
Last week, Vita.mn
reported on a post written by one of the owners of the soon-to-open Northeast Minneapolis production brewery NorthGate Brewing, regarding two cease-and-desist letters they received from the recently opened Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub
According to NorthGate's blog, Northbound's chief concern is over the confusion caused by the "deceptively similar" names of each respective establishment. NorthGate co-owner Adam Sjogren alleges that the two breweries had reached a verbal agreement at the beginning of the summer wherein NorthGate would wait a year before distributing its beer in south Minneapolis. Northbound's owners say that no such agreement was ever made and that they need to fight to protect their brand.
Northbound's owners Bryce Strickler, Amy Johnson, and Jamie Robinson write: "We have an obligation to protect our trademark, otherwise we'd lose it. We have only asked that the owners of the yet-to-be-opened Northgate Brewing tweak their name to reduce the number of instances of confusion that have already happened."
NorthGate, on the other hand, feels that this type of litigation seems unnecessary, as they are not in direct competition with Northbound. Sjogren writes, "In a market where the biggest craft brewers don't produce as much as Budweiser spills, I think it's shameful that a small brewpub is trying to litigate like a big-timer."
So will this simply come down to a race of who filed first? Well, that part seems a bit murky too. On his blog, Sjogren states: "On February 3, 2012, we officially became NorthGate Brewing by registering the name with the Minnesota Secretary of State. In June of this year we became aware of a new brewpub in south Minneapolis changing their name from Smokehouse Brewpub to Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. They filed for the mark Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub on February 23, 2012, which was approved on June 10."
But on their Facebook page, Northbound's owners countered that statement, saying: "We filed our name Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub with the Secretary of State on December 1, 2011, not February 23, 2012, as Northgate Brewing stated. We filed with the Trademark Office on February 23, 2012. ALL trademark owners have a duty -- under U.S. Trademark Law -- to diligently protect their marks."
For now, it doesn't look like the two parties will be able to settle this feud amicably or without further legal intervention, but stay tuned for updates.