Moosehead files lawsuit against Vermont brewpub over trademark

Moosehead Breweries has filed a lawsuit against a Vermont brewpub in a trademark dispute over its moose-themed name and logo.

Saint John brewery contends Hop'n Moose Brewing Company's name and logo represent infringement

Hop'n Moose Brewing Company in Rutland, Vt., is accused of violating Moosehead Breweries' trademarks. (Hop'n Moose Brewing Company)

Moosehead Breweries is suing a Vermont brewpub in a trademark dispute over its moose-themed name and logo.

The Saint John-based company has filed an infringement lawsuit against Hop'n Moose Brewing Company in Rutland, Vt.

"As a family-owned company, Moosehead Breweries respects and supports the efforts of small business owners everywhere," Moosehead said in an emailed statement to CBC News on Tuesday. "It is, however, incumbent on us to protect our business interests, including our corporate trademarks."

The moose has been an icon of Moosehead, the oldest independently owned brewery in Canada, for decades. The company owns "multiple" U.S. trademark registrations for the words "moose" and "moosehead," as well as moose-based images, according to the statement.

Moosehead, which was founded in 1867, adopted its current name in 1947. It sells beer in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.

Hop'n Moose opened in downtown Rutland in 2014 and recently started canning its beer, which is sold in about 15 nearby stores.

Moosehead contends the similarity in names and logos could create confusion.

Litigation 'last resort'

Moosehead Breweries in Saint John says the moose has been its icon for decades and the company owns multiple U.S. trademark registrations for the words 'moose' and 'moosehead,' as well as moose-based images. (Moosehead Breweries)

"When faced with issues of trademark violation, litigation is always a last resort," Moosehead said in the statement.

"We always  as we did in this case  attempt to work out resolutions with any breweries considered to be violating Moosehead trademarks," it said.

Discussions with Hop'n Moose owner Dale Patterson "reached an impasse, necessitating the present action," said Moosehead.

But the company remains "open to further discussions."

Patterson could not immediately be reached for comment.

He has been quoted by U.S. media as saying he hasn't seen the lawsuit but doesn't want to change his logo.

Has locked horns with others

This isn't the first time Moosehead Breweries has locked horns with another company over alleged trademark infringement.

Last year, Moosehead sent a letter to Regina's District Brewing Company, taking issue with its Müs Knuckle lager.

District Brewing Company president Jay Cooke said at the time his company planned to stand its ground because it didn't spell moose the same, and there was no moose on its packaging.

But the company's website no longer lists Müs Knuckle among its products.

In 2015, Moosehead filed suit against Adirondack Pub & Brewery Inc., in Lake George, N.Y., over its non-alcoholic root beer logo.

Moose Wizz was being marketed in a bottle featuring the head of a cartoon-like moose with a toothy grin.

Moosehead won and Moose Wizz was subsequently renamed Bear Wizz.

In 2014, Stack Brewing in Sudbury rebranded its Angry Moose and Friendly Moose beer as Stack 72 and Shatter Cone after getting a call from Moosehead.

Stack owner Shawn Mailloux said he opted to take the "path of least resistance" after being told Moosehead has the sole rights to the word "moose" when it comes to beer.

Stack later made an anniversary beer called Trademark Infringement.

With files from The Associated Press