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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sam Adams Threatens Sam Adams

There is a very nice fellow on the Portland City Council. He was the chief of staff to long-time mayor Vera Katz before running for the Council; and now that one-term mayor Tom Potter has decided to pack it in, this nice fellow has decided to run for mayor himself. As things currently stand, he is very likely to win. His name is Sam Adams and here is his picture.

If that name rings any bells, it may be because there was a much earlier public figure with that name. This man did not hold office, but was also a political figure and was partly responsible for bringing about the American revolution. Here is his picture.

Now, it's possible that the name rings a bell for an entirely different reason. You may be more familiar with the name Sam Adams because it is associated with a tasty beer you enjoy when, say, you're watching the New England Patriots on television. And herein lies the rub. That tasty beer is owned by a company that is a little tetchy about the name it appropriated from an American patriot and now appears to be threatening our future mayor with trademark infringement:
Everything was swell until last week, when Anderson got a letter from The Boston Beer Co.

"Boston Beer has used the trademarks SAM ADAMS\STRIP and SAMUEL ADAMS\STRIP since 1984," said the letter, which asked Anderson to give up the Web sites.

Portland's Sam Adams is amused and a bit concerned: His campaign staff consulted lawyers Tuesday. The slogan "Sam Adams for Portland Mayor" is already on his Web site ( and soon may grace yard signs and bumper stickers.

"They say they've been using this trademark since 1984," Adams said. "I've been using it since 1963."

Boston Beer's Helen Bornemann said she didn't know there was a real Sam Adams running for mayor when she sent the letter. The brewery has previously run "Sam Adams for President" marketing campaigns, she said, and feared someone was ripping them off. Bornemann said she's willing to discuss Adams' use of the Web sites "probably for the length of the time the election is being held."

It will perhaps not surprise anyone that this isn't playing well in the non-New England Portland. Early appraisals:

Here's a nice little response: f*** you, Boston Beer Company.

I, for one, am one hundred percent behind Mark and Dave. I hereby boycott all Boston Beer Company products. Since they only make Sam Adams beer, and since I never drank that swill anyway, that will be easy enough.

The trademark flap between Samuel Adams (the beer) and certain fans of Sam Adams (the next mayor of Portland) is quickly shaping up into a consumer boycott. Don't drink Sam Adams! And tell the corporate intellectual property bullies what you think of their harassment, here.
Personally, I don't often drink it. Not that it's swill. It's okay. But it's just not in my wheelhouse.

But I won't be drinking it again, due to the idiocy of their corporation.
Another wrinkle that makes this especially amusing: but for a coin flip, Portland would now be known (confusingly) as Boston, Oregon. Which would really bring the thing full-circle--Sam Adams, running for mayor of Boston.

I don't know, I think the whole thing calls for a nice, frothy pint of Oregon beer. Cheers!

[Update: a jpeg of the letter is here; further coverage on blogo-protests here.]

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