Duclaw sues Left Hand over trademarked beers
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.”
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.