New Belgium Brewing, the country’s fourth-largest craft brewery, recently rolled out its latest year-round offering, Slow Ride Session IPA, without — the brewery says — knowledge that a startup based in Austin, Texas, had recently begun producing a pale ale under the same name.
New Belgium spokesman Bryan Simpson told Brewbound that prior to releasing the beer, the company “conducted an exhaustive trademark search to ensure that the name was available.”
The company said it officially filed for the “SLOW RIDE” trademark in May 2014, without any knowledge of its prior use. And, once New Belgium learned Oasis Texas Brewing was using the name, it approached the company in an attempt to resolve the conflict “amicably, brewer to brewer,” according to Simpson.
“We proactively reached out to Oasis, suggesting a number of possible solutions that would allow both brands to exist in the market, but Oasis was not open to working with New Belgium toward a productive solution,” Simpson said a press statement.
According to court documents filed with United States District Court of Colorado, New Belgium owns the trademark for “SLOW RIDE” for use in connection with beer. Those documents also claim that Oasis rejected New Belgium’s attempts to resolve matters, claiming “common law” rights and threatening legal action.
New Belgium is now seeking a judicial declaration that would name the company the sole owner of the “SLOW RIDE” mark for use in connection with beer and grant the brewery exclusive nationwide rights.
According to the filing, Oasis began brewing operations in August, 2014, more than two months after New Belgium filed for its “SLOW RIDE” trademark. In the complaint, New Belgium also claims that Oasis did not seek a federal trademark for “Slow Ride” until November 5, 2014.
Meanwhile, New Belgium has temporarily halted sales of “SLOW RIDE” in Texas and removed the beer from variety 12-packs distributed in the state.
“At this time, we are only seeking geographical clarification as to our secured trademark. To avoid further conflict, we will release “Slow Ride Session IPA” as “New Belgium Session IPA” in Texas until this issue is resolved,” the company said in a statement.
New Belgium’s version of events is detailed on on its blog.