Sony Pictures (SPT) is suing craft brewer Knee Deep Brewing over their Breaking Bad inspired beer.
America’s brewers are no strangers to Cease & Desist letters for everything from beer names to logos. (Anheuser Busch issued a truly unique C&D during the Super Bowl this year.) Most of the time the issue is resolved with a name or branding change.
In this case, Sony not only suing for trademark infringement but also seeks to collect damages from Knee Deep Brewing.
The case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California outlines the “gratuitous” usage of the award winning show Breaking Bad as it relates to Knee Deep Brewing’s ‘Breaking Bud’ IPA. Sony Pictures holds trademarks for the “Br” and ‘Ba” periodic table styled logo for the Breaking Bad tv for use in motion pictures and television.
‘Breaking Bud’ IPA uses a similar styling on their cans and tap handles.
There is no legitimate need for Defendants to connect their beer with SPT’s BREAKING BAD show. The use of the BREAKING BUD name, the appropriation of the BREAKING BAD logo design and incorporation of other design features evocative of SPT’s show are entirely gratuitous and undertaken solely to benefit from the enormous goodwill and immediate recognition of SPT’s famous BREAKING BAD marks and thereby avoid the difficult effort of creating Defendants’ own unique and recognizable brand image. Simply put, rather than investing the time, effort and resources necessary to establish their own reputation and identity, Defendants have instead opted to hijack the famous brand identity associated with SPT and its BREAKING BAD show for Defendants’ own intended benefit.
Additionally, Sony contends in the suit that the hoppy character on the beer’s label is wearing a hazmat suit in the desert, as well as the depiction of the RV are further attempts to capitalize on the popularity of the Breaking Bad tv show.
Simply put, rather than investing the time, effort and resources necessary to establish their own reputation and identity, Defendants have instead opted to hijack the famous brand identity associated with SPT and its BREAKING BAD show for Defendants’ own intended benefit.
Knee Deep Breaking Bud IPA release dates back to 2015. Sony asserts in the suit that they have contacted the brewery previously in attempts to stop their usage of Breaking Bad associated branding, without successful resolution.
Although SPT has sought to halt Knee Deep’s infringing conduct, Knee Deep has refused to cease using marks and indicia exclusively associated with SPT’s BREAKING BAD show.
The dollar amount in damages that Sony is seeking was not mentioned in the claim. At the time of the article, artwork and description of Knee Deep Breaking Bud was still live on the brewery’s website.
An email to Knee Deep Brewing was not immediately returned.