Beer Man

Renegade changes the name of Ryeteous IPA after legal threat from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery

Add Renegade Brewing to the list of Colorado breweries who have had to change the name of one of their beers in response to a legal threat from another beer maker. (This story has been updated below.)

The company's flagship brew, Ryeteous Rye IPA, is now called -- wait for it -- Redacted Rye India Pale Ale, and a line has been drawn on the label through its previous name.

See also: - Renegade Brewing will can two more of its beers - Strange Brewing faces a trademark threat from a Massachusetts homebrew shop - Left Hand Brewing wages a trademark battle for the word "Nitro"

Last fall, Renegade, which cans Ryeteous, got a call from Shane Welch, the president of Sixpoint Brewery in Brooklyn, asking him to change the beer's name. Sixpoint, which also cans its beers, makes a similar rye-based beer called Righteous Ale.

"My proposal was that we are not in the same market and we are not going to be in the same market, probably, and our packaging is extremely different," says Renegade founder Brian O'Connell. "I said why don't we follow in the footsteps of Avery Brewing and Russian River and do a collaboration beer? But they weren't big on that, unfortunately. So that was followed up by a cease-and-desist letter from their attorney."

Avery and Russian River famously worked together on a beer called Collaboration Not Litigation when they discovered that they both brewed beers called Salvation.

Renegade, founded in 2011, currently only distributes in Colorado; Sixpoint, meanwhile, was founded in 2004 and distributes in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and several other East Coast and Midwest states.

Welch, however, says he thought that the two breweries had come to a mutually acceptable understanding over the course of a couple of phone calls. "We even said he could continue to use the mark until he ran out of packing material because we didn't want him to have any financial penalty for that," Welch says.

"The analogy that he was using with Russian River and Avery was different. If you look at the facts in that case, those were beers that had not been used and distributed as an existing brand," Welch adds. "In our case, we had been making this beer since 2005, and we own the federal trademark to it. If we had just produced it last year, it would be different. But we have been making that beer from day one."

But O'Connell believes that Avery and Russian River set a great example for the industry. "We got into this industry because of that kind of camaraderie and the social atmosphere. We tried to preserve it in this situation, but it didn't work out," he says. "It's frustrating, and it's disappointing to see this happening more and more.

"We chose to step aside and change the name instead of getting into an argument with another brewery and go through a legal battle," he adds. (See O'Connell's full press release with his additional thoughts on the next page.)

O'Connell wants to make a statement about how he feels, which is why he changed the name of the beer to Redacted.

"We were forced to change it. We didn't do it freely, and we aren't happy about it," he says. "But this is the situation that exists. I hope that makes a statement to the industry of what we think about it."

Several other Colorado breweries, including Oskar Blues, Dry Dock and River North have changed the names of their beers because of legal threats.

O'Connell says he will keep printing Ryeteous cans until he runs out in April. Then he will switch to labels with the new names.

Continue reading for the press release from Renegade.
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes

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