Lakeshore, Law, and Retail

All laughter aside, brewery hits trademark trouble

August 12, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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LMFAO Stout
Pigeon Hill Brewing received a cease-and-desist letter from the music group LMFAO over the name of a beer. Photo via fb.com

Fans of an electronic dance duo and a West Michigan brewery might be at a crossroads.

Muskegon’s Pigeon Hill Brewing Co. has received a cease-and-desist letter from LMFAO, the electronic dance music rapper duo from Los Angeles.

The brewery received the letter Tuesday afternoon as a result of Pigeon Hill’s filing for a trademark. Pigeon Hill owners said they have discussed their options and will wait before taking any action.

Pigeon Hill co-owner Michael Brower said they were surprised, humored and felt it was kind of cool the brewery had attracted the attention of — in the band’s own words — a “world famous” group and “entertainment phenomenon.”

The brewery does not believe the beer infringes on the band’s trademark of the name for use with musical performances, music records, jewelry or clothing.

“I won’t lie, I literally LMFAO’d when I received the letter,” said Brower, who is also an attorney. “Obviously we knew about LMFAO (the band), but we never thought that anyone would confuse our beer with them. The two are pretty unrelated.”

The musical duo claims Pigeon Hill’s Let Me Fetch An Oatmeal Stout, or LMFAO Stout, “is likely to confuse people and dilute their brand.”

The brewery has taken to social media to ask fans of the brewery what their plan of action should be. One option would be to ask LMFAO, the band, to join the brewers for a pint of LMFAO Stout but the name stays the same. Option B is the name should be changed. And C is open to suggestion.

“We have not decided to proceed yet,” Brower said. “The post on Facebook was intended to be genuine — we want to know what people think we should do.

“This beer was originally named by a Pigeon Hill fan, so it only makes sense for us to ask our fans their input.”

LMFAO Stout was the first Pigeon Hill beer to receive a name through a contest for fans of the brewery, which had yet to open at the time.

Cease-and-desist letters are common in the brewing world, often from one brewery to another over the name of a beer. The Business Journal detailed the issue earlier this year.

Brower said Pigeon Hill’s submission for a trademark on the beer was a “defensive measure” to prevent cease-and-desist letters from other breweries.

“As much as the ongoing trademark spats between breweries upset us, we are also afraid of being on the wrong end of a cease-and-desist letter simply because someone else decided to register a similar beer name,” he said.

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