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Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Sam Adams Cease and Desist Letter

A local radio station has posted the cease-and-desist letter sent to Portland mayoral candidate Sam Adams on his alleged "trademark infringement" in registering website addresses using his own name. It's a remarkable enough letter that I'm reposting it here, retyped verbatim, including the mispelling in the salutation. Thanks to 1190 KEX.
Mr. Andeson [sic],

We are the owners of the famous trademarks SAM ADAMS® and SAMUEL ADAMS®, and we write to you about a matter of serious concern arising from your registration of the domain names and

Boston Beer has used the trademarks SAM ADAMS® and SAMUEL ADAMS® since 1984 and is the owner of a number of federal registrations for the marks in connection with a variety of goods and services, including beer, other alcoholic beverages and related merchandise. These trademarks have become uniquely identified with Boston Beer and they and their accompanying goodwill represent a substantial asset of Boston Beer's business.

We recently became aware that you have registered the domain names and We believe that the sale of any services or products under this name will cause confusion as to the source, sponsorship or affiliation of such services or products and/or dilute the distinctiveness of our famous trademarks and trade name. Such infringement and dilution may subject you to liability under Sections § 43 and 32(1) of the Lanham Act, including the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

We trust that you do not wish to impair the intellectual property rights of another company or cause confusion as to the source or sponsorship of your services and products. Therefore, we hereby notify you that Boston Beer will take all appropriate action to protect its valuable trademarks and request that you immediately cease and desist use of the domain names and Please respond to this letter confirming our request by October 29, 2007.

Very truly yours,
Helen Bornemann
Intellectual Property Manager
There are two remarkable facts about this: 1) that the brewery didn't bother to do a Google search to see if there was a Sam Adams running for mayor ("Sam Adams Mayor" resolves the question with the first result); and 2) that, having appropriated the name of a historical figure, the brewery now protects its mark against private citizens. It has all the makings of a huge PR blunder.


  1. What idiots. Only time I would drink Sam Adams anyway is if I'm in some random city (in all likelihood east of the rockies) that does not know what good beer is!

    Along those lines - saw this post today. Already replied but thought there may be interest

  2. I'm not surprised this is coming from the same people who trademarked: "Hops are to beer what grapes are to wine."

  3. ...ummm, but I really like Sam Adams' Octoberfest and it isn't around that long! I promise my boycott will begin just as soon as their winter offering replaces it.

    NPR did a blurb about it this AM (Friday) but had a weird twist - that the cease and desist letter was sent to activists placing posters! Was this imagined or some other letter?