You may recall that we recently wrote about the effort by Hansen’s drink company to stop a small Vermont brewery from offering Vermonster Beer, claiming that it infringed on the trademark they held for Monster Energy Drink (because any moron would confuse beer with an energy drink). That situation got a ton of publicity (all of it negative towards Monster Energy Drink and Hansens), and Brendan alerts us to the news that it looks like Hansen’s has backed down. And the guy behind the Rock Art Brewery (maker of Vermonster) has put up an open letter with the timeline of events (pdf) — thanking everyone for creating the public pressure that got Hansens to back down.
Of course, it looks like Hansens only backed down in this one instance. Yet, as we noted, Hansens appears to have contracted with notorious abuser of the trademark system, Continental Enterprises, who likes to send cease-and-desist letters to anyone even mentioning a trademark name. Just recently, beyond the whole Vermonster situation, Hanses — via CE — has gone after a beverage review site (which had a negative review of Monster Energy Drink) and an actor who was a movie monster.
Will Hansens call off Continental Enterprises from its abusive practices?
It’s great that public pressure got the company to back down on Vermonster beer, but those other situations didn’t get nearly as much attention.
Matt Nadeau, from the Rock Art Brewery is asking how we can continue to use the community that came together to help him to do more to protect other small businesses from the same thing. As a starting point, why not point them to these other abuses by Hansens and CE and get Hansens to back down? After that, it would be great to get people to recognize that we need serious trademark law reform that brings trademark law back to its intended purpose: acting as a consumer protection technique against appropriation and confusion, rather than what many believe it’s become: a property right and a monopoly.