Last week, Abita Brewing Company caused a little bit of an uproar in Louisiana when they sent a cease-and-desist order to a local charity organizer for using the term “pub crawl” when pertaining to his events. Apparently, Abita got the state trademark in Louisiana for “pub crawl” back in July of 1999, and they were attempting to protect that trademark with their actions.
The culprit, Manu Kamat, organizes pub crawls in Baton Rouge to benefit the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice. These pub crawls organized by Kamat were pretty simply structured where participants paid a few dollars to enjoy drink specials at participating, area bars the night of the event. This was apparently too much for Abita to handle and they went after Kamat’s events, citing their trademark rights they reserve in order to keep “big corporate breweries” from mimicking Abita and the pub crawls they seemingly claim to have invented.
Not shocking at all, once this story went public, people got very upset with Abita’s actions. The public’s outrage surfaced on online social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Shortly thereafter, Abita changed their tune and issued this apology on their Facebook page:
“Dear Friends of Abita:
Over the years thousands of you have attended amazing moveable parties known as Pub Crawls. It’s no small feat to put together events of this size and caliber. Our standards are high and we put a great deal of time, thought and effort into making Abita Pub Crawls well-run, fun events for you.
In the 1990s big corporate breweries began trying to mimic craft beers and take over the types of events smaller breweries like us had created. To protect the Pub Crawl for our fans we trademarked the name of the event in Louisiana only. Our intent was to prevent any confusion and to stop the big breweries from copying our success. Over the years, we’ve sent out letters asking others not to use the name Pub Crawl unless it is an Abita sponsored event.
We’ve heard from you today on this trademark issue and we agree. Your respect is far more important to us than two little words.
This morning we reached out to the New Orleans Council for Community and Justice and let them know we’ve changed our mind and our position on the trademark issue. We have offered and they have accepted our support of their next event, scheduled for March 25. Abita is proud of our history of charitable giving to our community through our fundraising brews and our commitment to non-profit organizations.
You may see more Pub Crawls in the future. Some of them may not be sponsored by Abita, but we’re confident you’ll recognize the original when you see it and have a great time.
Thank you for your support of Abita Beer.
It appears all is well now. I am sure Abita will do their best to patch up this mistake by supporting this charity and others with future events until the public forgets what happened this week. It is just a little baffling that Abita would choose to go after a charity when pertaining to an event that is so wide spread and commonplace throughout the world as a pub crawl. I understand they are worried about the Big 3 (Miller, Bud, Coors) coming in to their state to use pub crawls as a marketing ploy, and they have to protect themselves in order to keep from losing money and business. A charity just seems like a bad choice to make a public example of in order to ward off big business. Live and learn, and I am sure Abita understands this cliché very well now. Prost!