A 'Monster' lawyer comes knocking at a small brewery


For the owner of a small craft brewery in Vermont, the legal letter on behalf of Monster Energy Drink parent company Hansen Beverages was baffling: Stop using "Vermonster" as the name of one your beers because consumers might confuse it with the energy drink.

"Your client's use...of VERMONSTER in connection with beer will undoubtedly create a likelihood of confusion and/or dilute the distinctive quality of Hansen's MONSTER marks," wrote attorney Diane Reed of the California law firm Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear.

Matt Nadeau, who with his wife and seven employees operate tiny Rock Art Brewery in Morrisville, Vt., couldn't believe what he was reading.

"I was just in disbelief," he said recalling the day he got the letter. "Oh my God, what is this all about?"

At first blush it seemed absurd. How could a sugar-laden, 16-ounce caffeine-infused can of energy drink sold nationwide be confused with a 22-ounce of high alcohol content beer (10%) that you can't buy in a whole lot of places outside of Vermont? Add in that the Monster label is a big, scary, drippy "M" and the Vermonster has the gentle Rock Art logo with a Vermont farm in the background and the issue gets even stranger. And, while we're at it, why is it that Hansen didn't go after the Vermonster at Ben and Jerry's? Couldn't a 20-scoop ice cream sundae with extreme quantities of toppings cause brand dilution to Monster Energy Drink?