On January 14, 2015, Lagunitas Brewing Company, a Petaluma, California craft brewer, filed a lawsuit in federal court for trademark infringement and unfair competition against competitor and Northern California neighbor, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California. In the lawsuit papers, Lagunitas alleged that its particular type-styled “IPA” mark was being infringed by the label and packaging of Sierra Nevada’s product, Hop Hunter IPA. (Among the lawyers who filed suit, one is listed as “Shady.”)
Lagunitas, however, had apparently underestimated the immediate and negative reaction to the lawsuit in the beer community. Social media exploded with criticism of Lagunitas over the row with threats to stop buying the brand and Lagunitas was reminded to stick to making beer.
On the same day, the company’s founder tweeted: “Today was in the hands of the ultimate court; The Court of Public Opinion and in it I got an answer to my Question. Our IPA’s TM has limits.” “Today I was seriously schooled & I heard you well…” “Tomorrow mornin we’ll Drop the Infringement Suit & get back to answering other Questions.”
The Streisand affect strikes again.