I wasn’t going to post about this battle between Rock Art Brewery and the Monster Energy Drink people, but it really makes for an interesting story.
On one hand, you have Rock Art Brewery located in Vermont. Its a small brewing operation owned by a Husband and Wife, and whose products are pretty much only found in the North East. They make a beer called ‘The Vermonster’. The Vermonster is a 10%ABV Barley Wine brew.
On the other hand, you have Hansen Beverage Co., the makers of the popular Monster energy drinks. Recently, the people at Hansen Beverage sent Rock Art a notice to stop selling and promoting “The Vermonster” because, according to the Monster people, The Vermonster craft beer could somehow confuse consumers. Check out this short video, and let Matt, who is the owner of Rock Art explain the situation in his own words.
Now, I’m no lawyer, but I do understand the need to defend a trade name, even sometimes when its something of a stretch. For example, perhaps ironically, the Monster Energy Drink people themselves have even been sued for the same thing by the people who make Monster Cable! Obviously, the word Monster is the same, but is it really something that will confuse consumers? I doubt it, but Companies have a responsibility to protect their name.
When trying to understand this issue, Here for the Beer brought up the test that is often used where it is asked, ‘can a Moron in a hurry tell the difference between an energy drink and a beer‘? Using this test, we ponder if a moron in a hurry can indeed tell the difference between the two products? I know a lot of morons, and I’m thinking yes. Yes they could tell the difference between an energy drink in a black aluminum can with claw marks, and a big brown bottle of beer with kooky Aboriginal art on the label.
But then I thought about my moron friend Mike. I could see this possibly happening to him, and its serious. Please read on.
Mike works hard carrying boulders all day, and needs an energy pick-me-up. Mike goes to the store to buy a Monster energy drink. Being very tired and an actual moron, he quickly grabs what he thinks is a Monster Energy Drink. He gets into his car and drives back to the boulder field. When he tries to enjoy his supercharged beverage, he finds that he did not buy an energy drink, but in fact bought a Cookie Monster doll. Both blue. Very easy to confuse. Mike not only has no energy, but he has to contend with of all the blue fuzz stuck to his face and the unsatisfying flavor of a Chinese made child’s toy. Mike cried out loud…”If only there was some way for a moron in a hurry to tell the difference between Cookie Monster and Monster Energy Drink! Why doesn’t the legal system do something about this to protect me?’
See, maybe Monster has a point. The morons need protection!
Seriously though, I understand protecting a trade name, but in this instance of David vs. Goliath, this could very well backfire in Monster energy’s face. Even though they have the resources and the deep pockets to see their effort through successfully, I think they will end up with the proverbial egg on their face by acting like a corporate bully.
Why? Why Rock Art? Vermonster is not even a real word! (I checked the dictionary.) Even more, there are at least a dozen other beers made with the actual word MONSTER in the name! Not to shine the light on those guys, but someone must have researched that already.
Whats more, there is Monster Cable, Monster.com, Cookie Monster, the Monster under my bed and the monster in my pants. (small-case m) There’s even a huge ice-cream Sundae that I saw a hippy hiker try to eat at the Manchester VT, Ben & Jerry’s that is actually called – wait for it – The Vermonster! It just seems a little too selective to me all things considered. Again, why Rock Art?
The very cool thing that is happening is that there is a frenzy of support for Rock Art Brewery online, particularly on Twitter where people are customizing their Avatars and calling for a boycott of Hansen Beverage products. In addition to that, there’s a surge of support amongst the beer blogging community as well urging readers to support Rock Art Brewery in their struggle and urge Hansen Beverages to chill.
In that sense, Rock Art Brewery is not alone. People have heard their plea, and it will be interesting to see how this works out.
I’m not going to tell you what to do or how to think. But, if you would like to support Rock Art Brewing in their struggle, send them an email or letter expressing your support. Better yet, if you’re in their small distribution area, buy some of their products.