I’ve always enjoyed the beers coming from Bell’s and even had beers with Larry Bell long ago at Come Back In prior to Great Taste of the Midwest. The news broke yesterday that Larry and his group of lawyers are suing a small North Carolina brewery named Innovation Brewing which has been in operation for two years. The article came from Tony Kiss at the Asheville Citizen-Times and Tony is known for accurate reporting. Bell’s is suing over a bumper sticker, yes, you read that correctly, a bumper sticker. You sell Larry never filed with the USPTO to trademark the bumper sticker slogan, the owners at Innovation did file to trademark their name, Innovation Brewery. So the big guy does his best to trounce the little guy. There is no way Innovation would ever be confused as Bell’s, one is a brewery, and the other is a bumper sticker slogan which is not trademarked. Even a blind man can see the difference.
So where does that leave us? Personally I want Larry to apologize to the owners of Innovation and to do so publicly. He has wasted their time and money to protect nothing. He is actually losing more than he will ever gain. I know I’ve purchased my last Bell’s product and I suspect his market share in western NC will drop like a rock. As word spreads his market share everywhere should drop like a rock. Some will not be able to give up a particular beer they produce, but with over 125 operating breweries in NC I am sure I can find something local to scratch the itch. I think Bell’s just needs to go away.