Monster Energy Versus Vermonster Spat: The Aftermath

Beernews.org reports on the results of an interesting food feud from last year, wherein the Hansen Beverage Company, makers of Monster Energy Drink, was contending that the tiny Rock Art Brewery in Vermont should not be able to call one of its beers "Vermonster." Hansen backed off after a massive public outcry, and the two companies reached an agreement (posted as a PDF download on the Rock Art website) which allowed Rock Art to keep using the name Vermonster.

The case may also become the basis for a broader investigation into the question of whether big businesses are abusing their trademark rights to intimidate small businesses:

"[Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy] introduced a bill this week that, among other things, will look into whether large companies are using trademark litigation inappropriately. The Senate unanimously passed the bill on Thursday night and it will now go to the House of Representatives," writes Beernews.org.

In his statement about the bill's provision to investigate abuses, Leahy says:

"I am concerned that large corporations are at times abusing the substantial rights Congress has granted them in their intellectual property to the detriment of small businesses. We saw a high-profile case like this in Vermont last year involving a spurious claim against Rock Art Brewery. When a corporation exaggerates the scope of its rights far beyond a reasonable interpretation in an attempt to bully a small business out of the market, that is wrong."

We can only assume Ben & Jerry's lawyers were in too much of a blissful food coma to consider suing Rock Art, as the ice cream maker also has a Vermonster on its menu, a massive bucket filled with "20 scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, banana, cookies, brownies, and all of your favorite toppings."