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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Trains, Beer Squabble in the Earthquake State

There's beer on the tracks in California. In what is becoming an uncomfortably common occurrence in craft beer, an established entity is challenging a brewery's right to trademark a brand. A lot of people will be watching to see how it turns out.

Anyone who watches these things is aware of the story. FiftyFifty Brewing of Truckee was hoping to trademark its B.A.R.T. Its application ran into opposition from the other B.A.R.T., an acronym for Bay Area Rapid Transit, the folks who operate a rail system in the Bay Area.

This seems like a bit of an overreach to me. I mean, the FiftyFifty B.A.R.T. is a barrel-aged beer. The other B.A.R.T. is a bunch of stinky train cars. Yet the train people want you to believe the beer people are going to somehow damage the transit brand. Nope, they aren't kidding.

On to the specifics. The train people claim FiftyFifty's use of the B.A.R.T. name is likely to "cause dilution of the distinctive quality" of the B.A.R.T. identity. How anyone would confuse a train with a beer is anyone's guess. But the train people say their brand has been featured in a lot of movies and has earned widespread acclaim that must be protected.

The beer people have their own story and they're sticking to it. They've been using the B.A.R.T. acronym for several years to describe a limited production Barrel-Aged beer that's Really Tasty. Get it? The name also pays homage to a now deceased pup named Bart who once stalked the brewery. So, you see, there isn't any conspiracy on the part of the beer people to muscle in on the train people's territory.

What will happen to the challenge to FiftyFifty's trademark application is uncertain. Ask anyone. These things are almost never cut and dry. The problem for FiftyFifty, as is the case with many breweries, is they simply don't have the liquid funds needed to finance an extended course of litigation to challenge the train people. And the train people know it.

This really just looks like another case of a large entity bullying a smaller one because it can. B.A.R.T., the transit agency, is a publicly-owned system that's been operating since the early 1970s. It has nothing to do with beer and no one in their right mind is going to confuse B.A.R.T., the beer, with B.A.R.T., the transit system.

This is no way to run a railroad, kids.
Another BART

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Bay Area transit is concerned that its image will be skewed because of a beer that is undoubtedly more enjoyable than its gross passenger cars? The pettiness of this is as funny as it is pathetic.


Keep it civil, please.