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  1. #1
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    The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    There's been a recent dust-up in the micro and home-brewing worlds involing Bell's Two Hearted Ale and a homebrew kit from Northern Brewer called Three-Hearted Ale. The problem for Bell's is simply the name. Bell's doesn't seem to mind that it's intended to be a clone of their beer.

    As for Northern, they and their supporters seemed to be miffed that Bell's didn't just call and ask them nicely to stop, but sent a letter written by a lawyer instead.

    Here are some links on the issue:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/northern.brewer.ltd
    http://www.bellsbeer.com/news/19-Off...from%203/22/11
    http://beernews.org/2011/03/bells-br...rthern-brewer/

    Any thoughts?
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  2. #2
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Trademark protection is serious business. Just ask the little old ladies at church bake sales in KY about Derby Pie. Yes, legal action has been brought. Bayer lost the trademark of "Aspirin" in the US. Protect it or lose it.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

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  3. #3
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Believe it or not, Life Alert has registered "Help! I've fallen and can't get up!"

    Which means if you fall and can't get up, you need to yell something else or they'll getcha!
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  4. #4
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Remember when Bell's Oberon was called Solsun?
    ovh

  5. #5
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    There's been a recent dust-up in the micro and home-brewing worlds involing Bell's Two Hearted Ale and a homebrew kit from Northern Brewer called Three-Hearted Ale. The problem for Bell's is simply the name. Bell's doesn't seem to mind that it's intended to be a clone of their beer.

    As for Northern, they and their supporters seemed to be miffed that Bell's didn't just call and ask them nicely to stop, but sent a letter written by a lawyer instead.

    Here are some links on the issue:
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/northern.brewer.ltd
    http://www.bellsbeer.com/news/19-Official%20response%20to%20the%20Northern%20Brewer %20situation%20from%203/22/11
    http://beernews.org/2011/03/bells-brewery-sends-cease-and-desist-letter-to-northern-brewer/

    Any thoughts?
    Being new to beer when I started paying attention to labels and types it wasn't always clear where a propriatary name ended and a type began.

    Looking at the name "Bell's Two Hearted Ale" I would have assumed "two hearted" referred to some characteristic and "Bell's" refers to this particular maker. The upshot being I would not be confused the "three-hearted" home brew clone with the company making the micro brew. But I buy types not brands, as I suspect most of us do. But, as Chuck has said many times, we are in the minority. And I suspect our perception and reading of labels is not the same as the average consumer.

  6. #6
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    Trademark protection is serious business. Just ask the little old ladies at church bake sales in KY about Derby Pie. Yes, legal action has been brought. Bayer lost the trademark of "Aspirin" in the US. Protect it or lose it.
    Back more than 40 years ago in Ruth, MI my mother started a church group called "Weight Watchers". It didn't take too long before a letter from a law firm representing Weight Watchers arrived to cease and desist.

    How they found out I'll never know.

    Trade marks are taken very seriously.

  7. #7
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Quote Originally Posted by barturtle View Post
    Trademark protection is serious business. Just ask the little old ladies at church bake sales in KY about Derby Pie. Yes, legal action has been brought. Bayer lost the trademark of "Aspirin" in the US. Protect it or lose it.
    Aspirin is a bad example. The trademark was confiscated by the U.S. government, as well as the rest of their assets, during World War I. They voluntarily gave up the trademark "Heroin".

    Escalator is a better example.

    But, yes, trademark is too serious a business for nice letters. Cease and Desist letters are a necessary part of the protection process.

    The beer is named after the fish on the label, not a style. Its style is what I would call American IPA. I had one this afternoon.

  8. #8
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Bell's favors a literary approach to naming. I'm sure the Two Hearted Ale is named after the story by Hemmingway, The Big Two Hearted River, which in turn is named after a river in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Likewise, Bell's Oberon named after a character in A Midsummer Night's Dream (about which I have a funny story ...)
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    Be good and you will be lonesome.
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  9. #9
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    Quote Originally Posted by bonneamie View Post
    Bell's Oberon named after a character in A Midsummer Night's Dream (about which I have a funny story ...)
    Please Madam do tell.
    ovh

  10. #10
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    Re: The Bell's/Northern Brewing fracas

    A story for you, Oscar:
    Charlevoix, MI has a boat parade called "Venetian Night" in the summer and one of the boats in the parade was named Oberon. My cousin went to the bar after the parade to check out the sailors and met one from that boat. She commented on the boat being named after a fairy. His manliness was impugned and he indignantly told her it was named after a BEER!
    Amy
    __________
    Be good and you will be lonesome.
    - Following the Equator Mark Twain

 

 

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