Beer Brand Battle at the 100th Meridian

By Richard Stobbe

A Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, has sued a brewer for the use of a beer name that mimics the title of one of the band’s popular songs.

Mill Street Brewery, a brand owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (the world’s largest brewer), has a beer branded as “100th Meridian Organic Amber Lager” .

This sounds familiar to fans of the The Hip, who will recall rockin’ out to the opening power chords of the 1992 hit entitled “At The Hundredth Meridian” from the Fully Completely album.

Does the name of a song from the 1990s take on the attributes of a trademark? Does the use of song title create a false association with the band, such that the band’s trademark rights are infringed? What if the name of the song ( “At The Hundredth Meridian” ) is not identical to the beer name (“100th Meridian”)? Does it make a difference if other brewers have given a nod to The Hip (Fully Completely IPA from Phillips Brewing, Ahead by a Century IPA, Tragically Hopped Double IPA, what’s with all the IPAs? heck there’s even a 50 Mission Cap Brewing Co.!).

This week, The Hip sued Trillium Beverage the brewer of the Mill Street product (Trillium is owned by Labatt Brewing Company, which in turn is owned by the conglomerate AB InBev), claiming trademark infringement. This is a tricky one for a couple of reasons, particularly since the brewer owns a registered trademark for “100th MERIDIAN” for beer. The Hip will face an uphill battle there. However, Mill Street didn’t do itself any favours by posting pictures on social media of the beer next to Tragically Hip albums, clearly suggesting some kind of association.

Related Reading: The Tragically Hip sue Mill Street Brewery over 100th Meridian beer

The lawsuit will likely settle, but if it does go through to a judgement on its merits, it will be an interesting one to watch.

Calgary – February 10, 2021

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