A phone call from a Bend brewer Friday morning to another in Maine may have averted an apocalyptic trademark battle.
Chris Morley, owner of Mason’s Brewing Co., of Brewer, Maine, said he talked man-to-man with Bend-based 10 Barrel Brewing co-founder Jeremy Cox about a notice sent to Morley by lawyers for 10 Barrel. Morley said the letter demanded that he stop calling Mason’s India pale ale Hipster Apocalypse.
10 Barrel’s signature brew is called Apocalypse IPA, a product that attracted the attention of Anheuser-Busch InBev, which bought the company from Cox, his brother Chris Cox and their business partner Garrett Wales for an undisclosed sum in 2014.
Morley said Jeremy Cox called him Friday morning and together they reached an agreement that keeps the Hipster Apocalypse label in play for the immediate future. Cox still works in 10 Barrel management.
“He was a wicked nice guy, like all craft brewers are,” Morley said.
He said he wanted a coexisting agreement with 10 Barrel in order to continue distributing Hipster Apocalypse in New England. According to Morley, Cox said he would speak to the lawyers representing 10 Barrel.
“He’s been in the position I’m in, and he gets it,” Morley said. “I truly believe he wants to make it right. It’s a West Coast company, and we’re a very, very small East Coast company.”
According to a statement provided by an Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman late Friday, Jeremy Cox said, “We’ve been working with Mason’s Brewing to come to a resolution on the trademark the brewery filed an application for. We spoke (Friday) and we’re both hopeful that we’ve come to an agreement that works for both of our breweries.”
Thursday, the Bangor, Maine, Daily News reported that Morley promised to stand his ground and fight the trademark challenge, even if it cost him thousands of dollars. “I’m not backing down. It’s our most popular beer,” the paper quoted him as saying. “This is another great example of a corporation trying to keep the little guy down.”
Mason’s Brewing opened 17 months ago and expects to produce between 2,500 and 3,000 barrels of beer this year, he said.
He said Mason’s does not compete in New England with 10 Barrel, which produced nearly 4,000 barrels of beer in July in Oregon alone, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Morley said 10 Barrel distributes beer in Maine, “but we can’t seem to find it.”
Anheuser-Busch sold $4.7 million worth of Apocalypse IPA in 2016, according to IRI, a market research company that tracks beer sales. In addition to a production brewery and two brewpubs in Bend, the company also operates brewpubs in San Diego, Denver, Portland and Boise, Idaho.
Mason’s Brewing in December applied for the trademark, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records. In April, a lawyer for Anheuser-Busch filed a request for time to file an objection to the Mason’s Brewing trademark. Monday, the trademark office received the objection from lawyers in Santa Monica, California, representing 10 Barrel. The lawyers did not return messages Friday seeking comment.
Morley said the choice of brand name was part of a series of four beers called End of Days that plays on the same theme. The Hipster Apocalypse packaging differs markedly, he said, from the plain lettering of 10 Barrel’s Apocalypse IPA label.
“As clever as I think I am, there’s only so many words in the dictionary,” Morley said.
He said he and Cox talked like two guys over beers.
“He and I had a great conversation,” Morley said. “He was very apologetic and said he had gone through a similar issue when they first opened.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7815, firstname.lastname@example.org