Is Bell’s Brewery Bullying A Smaller Brewery Or Just Protecting Its Brand?

The craft beer community is a passionate one. Bell’s Brewery makes fantastic beer, and as you probably know, it is a popular name in the craft brew world. However, Bell’s has been garnering negative press lately for its perceived bullying of a smaller Asheville, North Carolina area brewery in a trademark dispute.

Since we here at Abnormal Use maintain offices in both of the Carolinas, we felt compelled to comment upon this matter.

At issue is a brewery named Innovation Brewing. So, where’s the dispute? The names Innovation Brewing and Bell’s Brewery are so dissimilar that no one could possibly confuse the two, right? Well, not according to Bell’s, which believes there is a risk of confusion between the companies in light of an unregistered slogan that Bell’s has used in some marketing materials: “Bottling innovation since 1985.”

Okay. Seriously, how drunk would a customer have to be before trying to buy a Bell’s IPA and accidently ordering an Innovation Brewing IPA?  “Out of this world” drunk, according to the co-founders of Innovation Brewing.  In a statement issued on Facebook, the co-founders stated: “We do not believe that any human on Earth would confuse Innovation Brewing with Bell’s Brewery, despite their slogans.”

As for that backlash from the passionate craft beer community? At least one bar in Asheville, North Carolina stopped serving Bell’s shortly after news of the legal dispute became public.  There’s also a petition started by craft beer enthusiasts called the “Secret Beer Group” asking Bell’s to drop the matter. The petition has over 5,000 supporters.  And just for good measure, there’s some gem posts on the message boards with comments such as: “I’m calling bully and [BS] on Bell’s. No one in their right mind would ever confuse this.” We’ll be keeping our eyes on this one . . . .

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