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Trinity Brewing Strikes Trademark Deal With Red Swingline Stapler Maker

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No need to set the building on fire, Milton. Nobody is taking your red Swingline away. Or at least no one is taking Trinity Brewing's Red Swingline away. This week, Trinity owner Jason Yester revealed that he has signed an agreement with ACCO Brands Corporation, the maker of Swingline staplers, that will allow the Colorado Springs brewery to continue to use the name and and image on its beer labels.

The beer, which is named after a stapler belonging to the character of Milton Waddams, from the movie Office Space, is a hoppy sour ale that has become one of Trinity's flagships.

Trinity, which makes several beers with names from the movie, had filed for a trademark for "Red Swingline," as it relates to beer, in 2015 as part of a recent effort to protect many of its beer names. In January, though, Illinois-based ACCO, which makes a variety of office products, said it might oppose the trademark.

But the two companies were able to work out a deal that made them both happy: Trinity will sign the trademark over to ACCO, which will license it back to the brewery indefinitely. 

"More than anything, they just want to protect their image," Yester says. "Their only big provision was that if we change the artwork, they have the opportunity to thumbs-up or thumbs-down it. It seemed like the last thing they wanted was for us to lose that name. They knew it had won some awards, too.

"It was really pleasant the entire way," Yester continues, referring to the legal process. "Whenever something like that happens, I always try to solve it person-to-person first."

Trinity already had a good relationship with the company, he adds. Several years ago, when ACCO was celebrating Swingline's 25th anniversary, a company executive called out of the blue and asked if ACCO could have some of Trinity's beer for its party. Yester was happy to provide it.

Trinity will, in fact, be changing its Red Swingline label sometime this year as part of a larger rebranding effort for all of its labels. "We want our artwork to fit the theme of our beers...which is all about hands-on work," Yester says. He and an artist will be hand-drawing all of the new labels.

As for Milton, Yester says he is pretty sure that Office Space creator Mike Judge is aware of the Trinity beers — which include TPS Report, Oh Face Saison and Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta — and likes them.  "I don't think we will see any resistance from Mike Judge, to be honest," he concludes.

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