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West Sixth Brewing Co. sued over logo

West Sixth is a Kentucky-based craft beer startup launched in April 2012.

The brewery logo, designed by Cricket Press, has prompted a lawsuit from Magic Hat, a Vermont-based brewery that’s been in business since 1994.

The founders of the local startup beer say the lawsuit is just big business trying to bully the little guy.

“Their federal trademark is simply for the text ‘# 9′ and our logo contains neither a ‘#’ nor a ’9′. Our favorite part of their argument is where they call a 6 an ‘inverted 9′. Yeah, and did you know that a ‘p’ is just an inverted ‘d’? They’re totally the same letter!”

Magic Hat 9 West Sixth logos
Magic Hat #9 logo (left), West Sixth logo (right), photo credit

In response to the lawsuit, West Sixth started an online petition against Magic Hat. There are more than 17,000 signatures, and some local businesses are supporting West Sixth by boycotting all Magic Hat beers.

It’s not the first time Magic Hat has flexed its legal muscle. Georgetown Brewing renamed its 9LB Porter to Georgetown Porter after the numeric 9 was disputed.

Story via @TheLogoFactory. More chat on the BeerAdvocate forum.

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18 appreciated comments

  1. Mikeydoesit

    Wait they’re actually able to convince thousands of people as well that they aren’t riding the coat tails of the magic hat logo? C’mon son.

  2. a m e r i c a

  3. Absurd.
    Mikey, whether or not they’re riding the coattails is arguable, and not provable. But there’s just not enough similarity to claim infringement.

  4. The world has to simmer down on what is actually something “similar” and what is a “rip-off”. Cricket Press’s logo doesn’t even use the same font; the treatment of the logo on the label is entirely different. It’s almost impossible these days for designers to have their eye on every single logo out there, in order to make sure it has never been done before. I thought that it was interesting also to read that Magic Hat has sued another label once before: http://seattlebeernews.com/2010/06/trademark-dispute-moves-georgetown-to-rename-9lb-porter-to-georgetown-porter/

  5. I agree that it is similar but not distinctly similar. The pictures shown above do not, for me, give me enough cause to think it is copied.

  6. I find it hard to believe that anyone can own exclusive rights in a single number alone, so Magic Hat is presumably claiming that the overall impression of the Cricket Press logo is usufficiently close to its own to perhaps lead consumers to mistakenly believe that both brands come from the same stable, because of the similarities. The font of the number is pretty similar (Joce – most lay consumers wouldn’t notice that its actually a different font I suspect) and they’re both presented in a kind of round device, but that’s about it. Not enough to infringe for me.

  7. HB

    Let’s not let this be a case of “The Emperor’s Clothes.” There are many obvious similarities between the two designs. http://www.heybrewtiful.com/2013/05/is-magic-hat-9-really-trying-to-sink.html You’d think it would be simpler to avoid a lawsuit by reworking the West Sixth label, one that actually distinguishes itself from another existing (and pretty familiar) brand.

  8. So, the argument is over West Sixth being a competitor and using a number and a star in their logo just like Magic Hat? There is not much of an argument over the 6 and 9 being similar as they are quite different in structure and usage. As for the star/compass? It’s a pretty generic and overused symbol to begin with so theoretically they’d have to prove that no other potential competitor incorporates a star into their design to have any legs to stand on. Not going to happen. If this goes through, all companies can expect to be sued by larger “competing” entities simply because their logo has letters, numbers, symbols, and/or colors in it . . . Come on now!

    Unless West Sixth (or their designer) was aware of Magic Hat prior to the design and intentionally “borrowed” from their logo, I don’t see how this is anything other than a coincidence.

  9. Rich

    I’d have an easier time dismissing this if the 6 wasn’t the same style, in a similar circular device, and accompanied by a symbol. It instantly plays a scenario in my head where a director told a designer ‘We want it exactly like this but different’. I feel sorry for West Sixth if this is a colossal coincidence.

    There are so many different and beautiful styles of writing numbers, sued or not it’s disappointing to compromise on individuality.

  10. Great promotion for both companies, they are both raking in the dough. Even if they get sued, they still make and will keep making money based on the exposure they got.

  11. The question is: Is one label trying to confuse buyers by deliberately looking like another brand?

    The answer here has to be no.

    The type styles are similar, but it’s a different number, different colours and aside from it being in a circle, all the other elements are different.

    One is a green ranged left 6 in a dark green circle with a white star.
    The other is a red centred 9 in a yellow circle with swirly psychedelic lines all around it.

    Only when it’s a deliberate attempt to confuse should it really go to court. Hopefully the judge will throw it out.

  12. Omg. Some people just have to get the competion down, no matter what it takes. Yes you could say some small details can look alike, but nobody is gonna mistake one for another.

  13. Guys, you’re all too caught up in the technicalities of whether they are similar or who has the right etc etc. In business it comes down to who has the money to fund the legal and the motivation to take action. Even if a company has a registered trademark a ‘big fish’ can still force a small competitor out of the water by sinking more money into lawyers and forcing a settlement. In business IP this stuff happens every day… just take care to do your research before creating IP that might conflict and hope that you’re never on the receiving end of a big fish with an axe to grind.

    I’m reminded of a time I employed a Layout Designer for a Magazine on which I was the lead designer. He had no formal qualifications. Fortunately for him he was the only one of the applicants at that time who actually seemed to have a ‘can do’ attitude – the rest of the ‘graduates’ were a bunch of wet blankets. This guy was an Anthropology/Archeaology major who, luckily for him, knew the subject matter of the magazine in question back to front… However, his only exposure to the ‘tools’ was writing reports in MS Word and drawing maps in Illustrator. We took a gamble. We got lucky. Within a month he knew the tools (QuarkXpress back in those days) better than any of the graduates could have hoped and he became one of the most valuable employees I’d ever had… So much so that I poached him when I moved agencies.

    This experience provides me with a quandary because it is my firm belief that formal education is of utmost value. At the risk of seeming conceited, these days I find it easy to create spacial relationships in my compositions that are pleasing and well balanced… or dynamic and edgy where required… and I know for a fact that it is because of the 2 inch thick pad of grid sheets in which Paul Green Armytage had us ‘first years’ juxtapose triangles, squares and lines.

    So the morale of MY story is – formal training is a safe platform on which to build a career… but don’t be surprised when some upstart who cut their teeth designing basketball cards on their dad’s 486 PC ends up running a design studio in the heart of Margaret River’s wine region (Scott?)

    Des McKenzie
    Bluering Creative

  14. lloyd evans

    You’ve posted a lot of articles that involve logos that have very similar designs and concepts.

    It doesn’t have to be a rip off… it can be the same case here… it just happens sometimes.

  15. Sam

    This is a good post when read along with this one:
    http://www.logodesignlove.com/look-and-feel

  16. Di

    Seriously? So no one can ever use a number and anything resembling circle, without being accused of ripping off this logo? A bit absurd. I’m suprised its even been entertained.

  17. Chris

    This is worse then that Jersey Shore guy suing Abercrombie & Fitch over the shirt “The Fitchuation”. I’m sure it wont prevail. Never had West Sixth here in texas, but I’m guessing it’s better than Magic 9 (which I have had) since pure competition wasn’t enough for them they have to fight them elsewhere.

  18. Carla

    Those with BA degrees in Graphic Design know that this is a losing battle for West Sixth Brewing Co. to file a lawsuit against this design firm. Designers DO have the right to change or modify 70% of an inspired concept by the use of flipping, rotating, distorting, and many other things to an idea. From the looks of the design, Magic Hat did just that. :)


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