7 beer labels you might confuse with Lagunitas IPA

News broke today that Lagunitas Brewing has filed a legal complaint against Sierra Nevada Brewing, the heart of which is a trademark violation notice. From the Beer Street Journal:

While the SweetWater/Lagunitas situation is behind us, Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada now have a new legal issue to sort out. This one is over the labeling of Sierra Nevada’s forthcoming Hop Hunter IPA, as it relates to Lagunitas IPA.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Lagunitas Brewing Company vs. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was filed yesterday in the Northern District of California
  • Index No. 3:15-cv-00153
  • Lagunitas asserts four federally registered trademarks and two pending trademarks all relating to Lagunitas IPA, against Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA
  • Basically, the complaint states the black, bold, “IPA” lettering, with distinctive kerning (spacing) especially with “P” and “A” are too similar
  • Complaint asserts consumers might confuse the two brands, based on similar “IPA” branding
  • Additionally, Lagunitas notes the “Hop Hunter” branding appears to be a departure from usual Sierra Nevada labeling
  • Sierra Nevada’s proclivity for collaborations, along with the branding departure, could lead consumers to believe this is a collaboration between the companies
  • Tony Magee’s affidavit states that he personally reached out to Sierra Nevada founder Ken Grossman, with no resolution
Lagunitas vs. Sierra Nevada
The labeling in question.

Now, I have written before about the need for a company—any company and business—to defend its trademarks. In fact a company is obligated to defend its trademarks, or risk losing them—the whole point of a trademark is to protect the brand. Look, no matter how that might leave a bad taste in the mouth of the defendant, it’s a necessary fact of business, and generally I have to fall to the side of the trademark owner.

But in this case I have to say… really? Trying to assert trademark dominion over how you display the letters “IPA”? No. Just no. There’s no way I think anyone would confuse the two for branding, looking at the above pictures. Similar, sure, but then…

I mean, if Lagunitas really wants to go after companies who use similar branding to promote “IPA” then here are seven labels that people might confuse with Lagunitas IPA:

Knee Deep IPA
I mean, this seems pretty blatant.


Apocalypse IPA
This one is pretty blatant, too.


The colors here are reversed, but it’s still pretty obvious.


Tarantino IPA
Look at how similar that “IPA” is, once you get past the colors. And the elephant (though Lagunitas has a dog…)


True Brit IPA
Forget the background, “IPA” is pretty in your face here.


Point the Way IPA
Those palm trees can’t distract from how prominent the “IPA” is…


Bison IPA
Pretty blatant.


Tongue in cheek? Maybe a little bit.


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