Asheville, NC Bars Start Dropping Bell's Brewing Due to Bell's/Innovation Lawsuit Feud

by Hannah Howard on Mar 16, 2015 in Culture

 

There’s zero mention of “innovation” on Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Bell's Brewery’s beer bottles. Yet Bell’s filed federal action against tiny Innovation Brewing of Sylva, North Carolina. The argument: customers may confuse Innovation's name with Bell's unregistered advertising slogan "bottling innovation since 1985," or their registered trademark “inspired brewing."

Last year, Bell's made more than 310,000 barrels of beer, while Innovation produces about 500 barrels each year. Sound like the big guy picking on the little one? It sure does to many—nearly a year later, locals are taking action to stand up for Innovation Brewing. A petition on change.org “Drop your trademark dispute against Innovation Brewing” has 5,000 supporters and counting. Social media outcries abound.
 
It’s not just talk. The Bywater, an Asheville bar, removed Bell’s beer from its offerings in solidarity with Innovation. "The owner of Innovation has sunk his life savings into his dream, and now must fight a giant brewery instead of expanding his business," The Bywater explained on their Facebook page.

"For a brewery the size of Bell's to be threatened by or to threaten a brewery the size of Innovation, it's just bad business," Mike Rangel, the president and owner of Asheville Brewing Company told local North Carolina ABC news.
 
Bell’s posted an explanation of their own on own social media outlets:
 
"We have not, and are not asking them to change their name or their logo. There is no lawsuit. We are not suing them. We have not asked them for money. We have not asked them to stop selling their beer. We are asking them to withdraw their federal trademark application."
 
Bell’s makes some pretty tasty beer. As for their conduct, that’s murkier territory.  
 

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