Developing: Dogfish Head challenges Whip In over Namaste Brewing

Throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond, the word namaste may be a respectful greeting, one used to conote well wishes and mutual regard, but today in the craft beer world, it’s wrapped up in a much more American dispute–trademark infringement. According to a Facebook post from Dipak Topiwala of The Whip In, the Austin-based Indian brewpub/craft beer bar/bottle shop has been hit with a trademark cease and desist order from Dogfish Head Brewing. Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 2.16.14 PM

The issue? The Whip In’s recently created nano brewery, Namaste Brewing, happens to share a name with Dogfish Head’s witbier.

The story has been picked up by Eater Austin, and Austinites on Reddit are pretty upset by what they see as a discernible lack of Namaste happening here.

Meanwhile, in a post on their blog titled “Searching for a friendly solution,” Dogfish Head has stated that they did not send a formal cease and desist to Namaste Brewing and that they hope to resolve the issue brewer-to-brewer:

Because we believe in working collaboratively with other brewers in handling these disputes, we have called and emailed Namaste Brewing in hopes of resolving the matter brewer-to-brewer. (We have not sent a cease-and-desist and have not taken any legal action, as has been reported.) We have given them several creative solutions in an effort to alleviate any hardship they might face in making the changes, including the option to continue to sell the beer at their existing location and at festivals. Another option was to allow them ample time to phase out the name.

This is of course the latest issue in a long line of trademark disputes in the beer world (See: Magic Hat Vs. West Sixth, Anheuser-Busch Vs. Belleville Brewing) But, there have been examples of breweries taking more civil approaches, with Russian River and Avery’s “Collaboration not Litigation” probably being the most famous.

-Caroline

9 Comments on Developing: Dogfish Head challenges Whip In over Namaste Brewing

  1. Seems more like “Namaste Brewing” trying to use people to fight dogfish instead of working with them. Trying to use “oh look at me, they are trying to bully me”.

    • Well that may be what it seems to you AllTeam, im not quite sure how you can to that conclusion, but being a close friend of Namaste Brewing, that’s not the case. The owners of Namaste Brewing are of Indian origin and they are all huge fans of DogfishHead Brewing (who are also one of my personal favorite breweries).

      • DogFish Head does have a legal responsibility to guard and protect their trademark, lest they lose rights to that Trademark.

        But at the same time, I agree with Lys Green below, going out and putting DogFish Head on blast publicly like this versus engaging in a conversation and accusing them of “cultural imperialism” does seem heavy on the side of crying victim. Whatever the situation, I hope this results in a good outcome for both sides and a community doesn’t lose a part of the local economy due to legal fees.

  2. I think the only way Namaste Brewing can fight this battle is by earning support from the Austin community. But agreed, not the best approach by dogging Dogfish in the social media realm. I wonder what specific legal parameter lie around Dogfish’s Namaste trademark and the use of the word Namaste in other beer products or in this case, Company.

  3. I wonder why Namaste put it about that there was a C&D if there really wasn’t? I can’t see a big company like Dogfish lying about something like that. If Dogfish did indeed issue a C&D, it would make them look like bullies. But it should be common knowledge among business owners that you can’t name a brand or product after a pre-existing one. Pretty basic.

  4. The Whip In is embarrassing itself and the Austin brewing community. “Namaste Brewing” is nothing more than a glorified homebrew operation. It is not a legitimate brewery with experienced brewers. Sam Calagione and Dogfish have contributed more to craft brewing than Dipak could even dream of. Long live Dogfish. DEATH TO FALSE BREWING.

  5. I love Austin’s Whip-In and the folks who run it. I have been buying beer there for about 20 years and am looking forward to trying the beer they brew. They are great beer people and seem to be great people, period. I also love (most) Dogfish Head beers.

    But a registered trademark is a registered trademark, and part of the responsibility of naming a business, product or service is a trademark search to ensure no pre-existing registration is in effect, ESPECIALLY in the same industry or sector.

    If “Namaste” was a pre-existing registration for a perfume, or a floor wax, or a dessert topping, this might slide. But it’s a beer, and has been for 5 years.

    Sorry Whip-In, don’t print those growlers or tee shirts yet. Time to find a new name for your brewery methinks. (And blasting them in public for sending a C&D letter they didn’t is bad juju)

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