ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A local brewery is under fire and being threatened with legal action if they don’t pull one of their products off the shelves.
Canada-based Moosehead Breweries has sent a Lake George company a letter demanding they stop production and is filing a claim in federal court.
Moosehead Breweries released Moosehead Lager with a moose head on the label, and Adirondack Brewery’s new Moose Wizz Soda also has a moose head on the label. Company founder John Carr said he named the local root beer for a familiar local animal.
“Because soda is fun,” he said. “Why not stick with a fun animal?”
Carr said he started making the soda more than 10 years ago.
“Came up with the name, and it stuck,” he said.
Since then, the brand and taste has caught on, and 10,000 cases are sold annually.
“A lot of local chains have picked it up,” Carr said. “We’ve been shipping it across the country.”
Six months ago, Carr applied for a trademark. That’s when Moosehead Breweries took issue and sent Carr a petition letter claiming he violated their trademark.
“Saying that you can’t use the word moose, we own the word moose, we own everything associated with the word moose,” Carr explained.
Carr was confused by the petition because his drink is not a lager or ale. It’s not alcoholic at all. It’s simply a root beer.
“We’re making root beer, and this is a different class of trade,” he said. “It is not what they are trademarked for.”
Moosehead currently has trademarks in the United States for clothing, signs and alcoholic drinks that protect their logo and name.
“Not sodas or food products or anything like that,” Carr said.
Carr said he initially tried to work out a compromise.
“They came back to us with, ‘Nope, you need to have your product off of the shelves by Friday,’’ he said.
That date was March 13. Unless Carr complies soon, Moosehead will demand a jury trial in federal court.
“There’s been no confusion in the market place with this product versus Moosehead,” Carr said.
Carr plans to fight Moosehead in court.
“And I can go represent myself if I have to because I can’t afford it,” Carr said.
He hopes the judge will hear his case.
“Realize that this isn’t a trademark,” Carr said. “This is bullying. I believe that the moose predates their company, and I’m hoping that the moose – at least in the Adirondacks – will remain free for as long as possible.”
Neither Moosehead Breweries nor its U.S. attorney returned NEWS10’s calls on Wednesday. Carr has already tried to work with the Canadian beer company saying he’s not going to use the moose name or logo on any of their merchandise nor are they selling any moose releated alcoholic beverages.
If the case does go to court, it’s going to be tried in federal court in Albany.
Carr started the hashtag #freethemoose hoping backlash will get Moosehead to drop the suit.