N.H. Brewery Rebrands After Trademark Dispute Over Use Of 'Moose' In Name

Apr 14, 2017

Mooselick Brewery in Troy is now Granite Roots Brewery, after a legal dispute over use of the word "moose" in its name.

  Moose are an icon in New Hampshire, so when Mooselick Brewery launched in the state in 2015, the name made sense.

But it didn’t take long before the company found itself the middle of a trademark dispute over its name with a much larger beer maker north of the border.

That’s now forced this small business in New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region to rebrand as of this weekend.

Oliver Levick, co-founder of Mooselick Brewery in Troy, joined NHPR's Morning Edition.

Take me through the history a bit on this: I understand it started with a cease-and-desist letter. What happened?

We started the brewery in about August of 2015. We opened the doors, and there was obviously a lot of prep that went into getting this going prior to that. In about October of 2016, so last fall, we received correspondence from Moosehead Brewing in Canada regarding possible trademark infringements.

What was their complaint exactly?

They had a number of complaints. The biggest one was that had ‘moose’ in the name of our beer company. In addition to that, the fact that we had an image of a moose for our label and our logo. And that we had the word ‘moose’ in a number of our beer names.

Do you imagine getting into this legal battle you might have had a chance to win?

That was certainly an option and we did seek advice from a number of colleagues and friends. It was something that was certainly possible. But in having conversations with their team of lawyers, it became obvious to us that they were fully intent in upholding what they believed was their trademark. They do have history of going through this with a number of other breweries. They were long, drawn-out processes that at this point, we weren’t prepared or would we have the ability to undertake.

It just didn’t make financial sense.

No, definitely not.

So the new name – Granite Roots Brewing – how did you come up with that?

It took a bit of time, but once we finally came up with it, it was full steam ahead. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, definitely lost some sleep over where the business would be going. We just wanted to find a name and a logo and an identity that really stood for and represented what we wanted to be and how we see ourselves as a business.

How costly is this kind of a re-brand?

There was definitely a monetary cost tied to it. We had to work with artists to design a new logo. We had to run all new beer labels, which are being printed as we speak. New advertising and promotional materials, all new schwag, as they say: t-shirts, pint glasses, everything like that. And the tap room, all that had to be fully changed over.

Do you have some plans for a coming out for the new brand?

This weekend will actually be a soft launch. We’re switching over everything in the tap room now as far as marketing and goods that we sell. We’ll be re-labeling all the beer Friday night. Everything hits the shelves and we’ll be opening the doors Saturday at noon as Granite Roots.

Did you do any research to make sure you didn’t have any trademark infringement with the new name?

I did. I spent an entire Sunday afternoon scanning through trademark websites, making sure that there weren’t any trademarks on Granite Roots as a brewery.