Brewery Bans Portland Mayor From Locations After Logo Dispute
Rogue Ales, one of the nation’s premier craft breweries, has banned the mayor of Portland and his lawyers from entering any of their locations. If you’re expecting some tabloid-worthy tale of drunken debauchery, however, you’ll be sorry to hear that the matter is a legal one.
The disagreement springs from a long-running dispute between the city and another, smaller brewery: Old Town Brewing. The issue? A trademarked logo.
For the past five years, Old Town Brewing has held a trademark on their white stag logo, which they use on glasses, bottles and merchandise. This trademark went undisputed for a few years, until owner John Milne noticed that the city of Portland had applied for a trademark on the stag logo. Soon after, he recognized his company’s logo on a Budweiser glass, and decided it was time to meet with city officials.
Fast-forward a few years, and the issue has still not been resolved. Though the city denies any involvement with Anheuser-Busch InBev—the owner of Budweiser—it still seeks the use of the stag logo, which it claims is a symbol of the city that should be used to promote its brand.
This is where Rogue Ales comes in. One of the largest craft breweries in both Oregon and the United States, Rogue Ales’ decision to ban the mayor and his associates comes as an attempt to defend Old Town Brewing, a smaller, more vulnerable company. Though the dispute is between the city and the brewery, to Milne, the issue is bigger than the logo’s use on a local stage—it is an issue of merchandise, and his desire to protect the trademarked stag logo from use by larger companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev, a global conglomerate that goes against everything craft brewing stands for.
While no compromise has yet been reached, it seems that the city is fighting an uphill battle. As if the trademark alone weren’t a big enough obstacle, the city has chosen to enter into a dispute with representatives of one of its largest industries. Portland, perhaps the craft beer capital of the United States, would be wise to take these factors into account.
Tom Higgins is the associate content editor and official Kid Rock beat reporter for the Promo Marketing Media Group.