Moosehead Breweries Ltd., of Saint John, New Brunswick, has triumphed in a legal battle with the Adirondack Pub & Brewery of Lake George, in upstate New York, over its use of a moose head in the design for its Moose Wizz root beer, a non-alcoholic soda sold online and in 40 New York counties.
Moose are often portrayed as gentle, benign forest animals, but moose attack more people than bears and wolves combined, injuring more people in the Americas than any other wild mammal.
Moose are also evidently lethal in the court room.
In a jury trial in New York Northern District Court, Carr’s Adirondack Pub and Brewery was found to have violated American trademark law, and was ordered to pay US$8,800 in damages, partially citing Carr’s overzealous use of social media in his #freethemoose campaign against Moosehead as reason for awarding the damages.
Aside from damages, Moosehead also demanded in the suit that Adirondack Brewery stop production of Moose Wizz Root Beer and pull remaining Moose Wizz from shelves, as well as cough up all profits earned from the sale of Moose Wizz over the past eight years.
Moosehead’s claim read, “Moose Wizz root beer products are so similar to Moosehead’s beer sold under the Moosehead Registered Marks as to create a likelihood of confusion.”
The judge in the case, Norman Mordue, will decide at a later date whether Moose Wizz will be allowed to continue using the moose head in its logo.
In an interview with a college paper, Carr referred to Moosehead’s pursuit of the case as “corporate terrorism” and ranted on Youtube that “a massive company out of Canada” was trying to bully him into submission, portraying Moosehead as “a multinational beer company” that believes that “they own the moose.”
Moosehead debuted the iconic Canadian brand, both name and moose logo, in 1931.
Carr’s claims that Moosehead is particularly massive, or even multinational, aren’t exactly true. Moosehead is headquartered in Saint John, New Brunswick, employs about 400 people, and accounts for approximately 4% of the $4.7 billion domestic Canadian beer market.
Carr claimed that Moosehead has filed suit against 25 different parties to assert its right to use the word “moose” and its likeness on product labels.
“The point we tried to make is that the beverage world has changed,” said Moosehead lead attorney Mike Garvin, of Columbus, Ohio law firm Vorys to Syracuse.com. “The lines between breweries making beer and other beverages is less clear than it was.”
Earlier this year, Moosehead sent a cease and desist order to the District Brewing Co. in Regina, Saskatchewan, over its beer Müs Knuckle.
District Brewing Co. owner Jay Cooke told the Regina Leader-Post about “a letter of opposition from Moosehead stating the word ‘moose’ could be confusing to their customers based on the trademark. I’ll let (Moosehead) tell me what M-U-S means, with an umlaut on (the U), because it’s a word we just made up.”
Cooke kept the name Müs Knuckle, but got rid of the moose imagery and continues to sell the lager.
In 2014, Moosehead sent a cease and desist to Shawn Mailloux of Sudbury, Ontario, whose Angry Moose and Friendly Moose brands he agreed to change without going to court.
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