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Duclaw sues Left Hand over trademarked beers

March 26, 2014
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The logo of Duclaw’s Black Jack Stout, left, next to a bottle of Left Hand’s Black Jack Porter

Among the very first beers that Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Co., received awards for were Sawtooth Ale and Black Jack Porter, which earned gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1994 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. In Maryland in 1998, DuClaw Brewing Company introduced Sawtooth Belgian White and Black Jack Stout, which first earned Governor’s Cups at the Brewers Association of Maryland competitions in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Now, DuClaw is suing Left Hand, claiming in a trademark-infringement case filed yesterday in Maryland U.S. District Court that the brewery is violating DuClaw’s trademarks for the two brands, since Left Hand’s versions are now distributed in Maryland by Rosesdale-based Legends Limited.

While Left Hand had products called Sawtooth and Black Jack on the market first, DuClaw’s complaint alleges that, after DuClaw registered its Sawtooth and Black Jack trademarks in 2002, Left Hand’s products of the same name entered the Maryland market. A 2010 letter DuClaw sent to Left Hand, asking it to “cease and desist the use of its current names for its beers Sawtooth and Black Jack” failed “to resolve the dispute,” the lawsuit states. “The significance” of Left Hand “entering into Maryland,” the lawsuit continues, is that DuClaw “is based out of Maryland and after successful and expensive marketing campaigns, its products using the uncontested, registered marks Sawtooth and Black Jack Stout enjoy a strong reputation among Maryland consumers.”

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The logo of Duclaw’s Sawtooth Belgian White, left, next to a bottle of Left Hand’s Sawtooth Ale

DuClaw has demanded a jury trial over its claims, and is asking for Left Hand to be ordered to stop “the use, sale, and promotion of its beers named Sawtooth and Black Jack outside its common law rights, if any,” and to destroy all promotional materials and packaging bearing those names. In addition, DuClaw wants awards for damages and fees related to bringing the lawsuit, with the amounts not specified in the lawsuit.

  • Dan

    I don’t believe there would ever be confusion between Duclaw and Left Hand products, even using similar names.

  • SaisonDrinkin

    Duclaw comes off like a bunch of creeps here to loyal and protective craft beer drinkers and industry friends. Avery & Russian RIver had an issue years back…they brewed a beer together, not tied it up in court. Clowns.

  • Vin

    tasty beer too.

  • Jacob

    Craft Beer drinkers have strong opinions, which is great. But (and this would be the point of my post): when the marketplace (capitalism, man) dictates such competition, business owners are looking at the bottom line every day and will do what is necessary to protect their “brand” and their employees. Many, many craft brewers have enjoyed the past 10 years (give or take) being THE GUY in the market. Now? In our case, Left Hand has to compete with DuClaw, etc. Two years ago? Not a lot of competition.

  • mbatley

    A jury trial? Will there be tasting? “I’m sorry your Honor but only one bottle of each is not enough ‘evidence’ to make a solid decision… ” Sign me up!

  • Elizabeth
  • Gishter

    Ironically, Left Hand is currently trying to trademark ‘nitro’, ostensibly to keep others from putting that on their bottles, advertisements, etc.

  • Tadhg Aed Magner

    They should take a page from Russian River and Avery, who both had a “Salvation” beer and wound up just collaborating on it and making the “Collaboration not Litigation” beer.
    What ever happened to respecting your elders considering Left hand was founded years earlier. Duclaw is just making themselves look bad on this one.

  • Just a fellow Brewer

    Leave it to northern Marylard douche bags to sue a brewery for marks that were in use for 4 years prior to their attempts. DuClaw makes 1 beer I’ll hat tip and that’s Sweet Baby Jesus. Other than that, they can spare me their over priced shitty food and service and half rate beers. Not to mention their horrible pseudo “metal” looking labels. If Lincoln Park, Nickleback or Drowning Pool put out beers, the labels would look like DuClaw’s cheesy shit. I guess that’s what golf visors and UnderArmour Polo shirts due to people. Thank god PA has a far better beer scene.

  • edjumacated

    “Lincoln Park”, “due”. Thank God MD has educated people! Stay in school buddy!

  • Jesus H.

    BOTH WRONG. It’s Linkin Park. Now apologize. Oh and I’m guessing your initials are A.M.

  • edjumacated

    Hence the reason I put it in quotations moron! I love how you pick up on the misspelling of the band, but not “due”! Just proving my point that stupid people shouldn’t breed!

  • theaegean

    Thank you, DuClaw, for alerting me that there may be less shitty Sawtooths and Black Jacks available in our market.

  • Alexander Mitchell

    Wasn’t me. <:-p