[PHOTO COURTESY: District Brewing Co.’s Twitter feed]
How many “moose” make up a herd? Well, if it comes to the Canadian beer industry, one brewery feels there’s only room for one brand with that word — or any variation of that word.
Regina-based District Brewing Co. received a statement of opposition last week from Moosehead Brewery of Saint John, N.B., after it applied to register its leading brand of beer, Mus Knuckle.
“We have two options: either we fight, which is going to be expensive because of legal fees, or we concede, which will be expensive to rebrand and get new packaging and marketing,” Jay Cooke, president of District Brewing told Yahoo Canada News. “Either way it’s going to be a huge hassle for our company.”
The name Mus Knuckle, which Cooke says is a playful reference to the “bulge in a man’s pants,” was chosen because it’s memorable and goofy. Since District brews German-style beer, the company wanted a dramatic play on the word “moose,” which is why it uses an umlaut. The Mus Knuckle brand, which has been on shelves since 2013, makes up 95 per cent of the company’s sales.
“The reality in marketing in the beer world is that there’s only so much shelf space and you have to stand out on the shelf,” he says. “You do that with packaging, your name or pricing.”
He adds that making up the word “Mus” was intentional to avoid any trademark issues.
This isn’t the first time Moosehead has gone head to head — antler to antler— with another company over the word “moose” in its product. The company sued Moose Wizz root beer, and Big Sky Brewing’s Moose Drool Brown Ale was forced to change its name to Moo Droo after Moosehead took legal action.
“They’re very protective of the word “moose” and the imagery of moose and we don’t use either,” Cooke says, adding that District Brewing wasn’t approached until after it applied for the trademark.
Mus Knuckle is available in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, while Moosehead sells its products across Canada and the United States.
Representatives at Moosehead Brewery were not immediately available for comment.
District Brewing has until the end of March to decide its next move.