Two Colorado craft breweries have amicably settled a trademark dispute that looked like it had the potential to get ugly before it got better.
On November 3, 2017, Denver's Epic Brewing filed suit in US. District Court against Buena Vista's Eddyline Brewing over an Eddyline beer called Epic Day Double IPA. Epic Brewing claimed that Eddyline was infringing on its established trademark rights to the word "Epic," when used to refer to beer. Eddyline had attempted to trademark the name but had been denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In the suit, Epic asks for a whopping $1 million in damages as well as any profits Eddyline made selling Epic Day. It also asks Eddyline to get rid of all of its Epic Day cans.
At the time, Epic co-founder Dave Cole told Westword that the brewery had "reached out to Eddyline to let them know about our brand and trademarks, both of which we’ve worked hard over many years to develop and register." But, Cole added, Eddyline "refused to stop using the Epic Day branding and would not even engage in meaningful discussions. At the end of the day, we had no choice but to press the issue, because it became obvious that consumers thought Epic Day was an Epic Brewing product."
Eddyline owner Mic Heynekamp disputed that version of the events, however, saying Epic's first communication was "a list of unreasonable demands — much more than asking us to stop using the word 'Epic.'" Heynekamp said he responded to the request and asked for an "amicable discussion" rather than "impossible monetary demands," but that Eddyline never heard back from Epic until the suit was filed.
Earlier this year, Epic also issued a cease-and-desist to Western Distributors, which distributes Eddyline beers in Colorado. As a result, Eddyline began self-distributing the beer.
For several months, it appeared that Eddyline planned to pursue the court case despite the fact that Epic owned the trademark to the word "epic" as its relates to beer products. Epic, meanwhile, appeared ready to use its full force to protect its trademark and seek damages.
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A court battle was avoided, however, when the case was settled. On Monday, the two breweries issued a joint statement:
"Eddyline recognizes the value and importance of Epic Brewing’s brand and trademarks, and had no intention of harming Epic Brewing or the Epic Brewing brand," the statement reads.
"Epic Brewing recognizes that both breweries make valuable contributions to the Colorado craft beer market. As
part of the settlement, and in the spirit of independent craft brewers, the parties have agreed that Eddyline may continue selling Epic Day Double IPA in Colorado and New Mexico."
Neither Cole or Heynekamp would discuss the details of the settlement.