Fate is a funny thing. And in this case, fate it has determined that two companies, both called Fate Brewing, would end up in court.
Just days after Arizona's Fate Brewing opened a second major brewpub in the Phoenix area, Boulder's own Fate Brewing has filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court, claiming that the Arizona brewery is infringing on its trademark.
The case was filed in Colorado because “representatives of [Arizona's Fate] have on multiple occasions traveled to Colorado to distribute their beers and promote their brewpubs at the multi-day Great American Beer Festival held in Denver, Colorado each fall, according to court documents. "In addition, through their websites and social media presence, [Arizona's Fate] promote their brewpubs and beers nationally, including to Colorado residents.”
The root of the dispute goes back almost exactly three years to August 24, 2012, when the founder of Boulder's Fate, Mike Lawinski, received a letter from Arizona Fate's lawyer, demanding that he stop using the Fate Brewing name; at the time, Boulder's Fate wasn't yet open. Lawinski says his own attorney responded to the letter, but never heard back from his Arizona counterpart.
Although the Arizona brewery opened in November 2012, four months before the Colorado company, Boulder's Fate had been awarded two trademarks to the names back in June and August of 2012, with the intent to use both commercially, the lawsuit says.
Between September 2012 and September 2013, representatives of the two breweries “met in person and corresponded in writing several times, exchanging proposals in an attempt to negotiate a potential compromise regarding the Fate Brewing Company mark,” the lawsuit continues. However, the two sides were unable to reach an agreement.
Since then, Boulder's Fate claims that there have “multiple instances” of public confusion between the breweries, specifically at the Great American Beer Festival in 2013 and again in 2014, when Boulder's Fate won a gold medal for its Laimas Kölsch Style Ale. Boulder's Fate also says the two have been confused in correspondence, in social media, in news articles that link to the wrong brewery, at another festival, and on invoices.
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The final straw, however, appears from the lawsuit to be the announcement of Arizona Fate's second brewpub, which is located in Scottsdale.
As a result, Boulder's Fate claims that the Arizona company has hurt its business by continuing to use the name and has asked the court to prevent the Arizona brewery from continuing to use the Fate name – and for financial damages.
Arizona Fate's owner Steve McFate says via email that he's unable to comment on the lawsuit right now. Lawinski didn't yet return an email seeking comment this morning. Westword will update this story if he does.