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Monster Fight is Over

Oct 23, 2009 - A small Vermont brewery that makes a beer called Vermonster and the Nasdaq-traded maker of Monster energy drinks settled a trademark dispute that prompted some stores to pull the larger company's beverages in protest.

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The energy drinks-maker, Hansen Beverage Co., sent a cease-and-desist letter last month to Rock Art Brewery, telling it to stop using the name and to pay for its attorneys' fees.

On Tuesday, the two sides reached a settlement that allows Rock Art to continue to market the brew, an American barley wine, anywhere in the country. In return, Rock Art agreed not to sell energy drinks, which it never intended to do, said Douglas Riley, a Rock Art lawyer.

"It's phenomenal," said Matt Nadeau, who owns the Morrisville brewery with his wife. "It happened so fast. That's what's just amazing about this new power of traditional media, combined with social media, what tools that we have as Americans to fight against big power."

Nadeau said he had been told by five trademark attorneys that he could probably win in court, but that fighting for the name would likely bankrupt him.

Nadeau aired the dispute on the Internet, framing it as an example of a large corporation trying to squash a small business owner. Word of the dispute prompted stores in Vermont, New York, Maine and Connecticut to pull the energy drink from their shelves, Nadeau said.

"It struck a nerve with everybody when they saw and heard the story," Nadeau said. "They were like, 'You've got to be kidding me. I'm not confused by these products. What do mean this guy's going to lose his business if he decides to fight for the name that's legally his?'"

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., stepped in, urging Hansen to back off.


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