Lucasfilm Is Suing Brewery over Beer Name "Strikes Bock"
Lucasfilm isn't laughing at the beer name pun that the Syracuse’s Empire Brewing Co. came up with for one of their bock lagers. They named it "Strikes Bock," so with the name of the Brewing company being Empire, we get "Empire Strikes Bock." Hey! That's pretty clever! Of course Lucasfilm is now suing the New York based brewery for copyright infringement.
Empire Brewery was in the process of trademarking the "Strikes Bock" name so they could bottle and distribute it outside of their flagship bar, and that's when Lucasfilm caught notice. The Disney subsidiary believes that the name is too similar to Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, and that this would cause customer confusion.
What's interesting about this is that when it comes to customer confusion in the movie business, it's in regards to a name that is so similar that it would essentially trick people into buying a ticket or DVD of a movie they didn't intend to — like Transformers and Transmorphers. This is the first time I've seen a company claim that someone would confuse a beer for a movie though. The lawsuit states:
“Applicant’s EMPIRE STRIKES BOCK mark is virtually identical in sound, appearance, and connotation to Lucasfilm’s THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK mark, differing by only one letter in the respective last words ‘BOCK’ and ‘BACK,’ and the initial word ‘THE,’” the complaint explains. “Lucasfilm has a long history of using such marks for food and beverages, including wine. The fact that consumers have been exposed to and accustomed to seeing Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS Film Franchise marks in connection with food and beverages, including wine, increases the already existing likelihood of confusion.”
Empire Brewing Co. owner David Katleski talked to Syracuse.com about all of this and he made a good point, saying,
“Would anyone actually think ‘Strikes Bock’ is an official Star Wars product? The thing is, the beer is called 'Strikes Bock,' not 'Empire Strikes Bock. 'It's 'Strikes Bock,' by Empire."
I don't really see an issue, but it's Lucasfilm and Disney. If they see something they don't like, they have the power of the Deathstar behind them to blow it up. Do you think Lucasfilm should follow through with the lawsuit or let it go?