Wow. It’s been four years since we began this crazy journey. Back then we were so naive and carefree. We laughed off all the horror stories shared by people we knew who had started breweries. That would NEVER happen to us, right? We weren’t going into this blind. We were PREPARED. We were THOROUGH. We researched the hell out of EVERYTHING. I mean, we never thought it would be smooth sailing. We knew there would be a hiccup here and there. But we were PLANNERS. We HAD this. We were going to make the process of opening a brewery our bitch.
The problem was, we planned for speed bumps. What we encountered were land mines.
When we first decided to do this, we talked to our friend Ty, the Marketing Genius. He said “You guys need to pick a kick ass name. Everything will fall into place from there.”
Mischief was a word we used often in our house. It embodied our concept and defined what we wanted to accomplish in the brewing industry. It was perfect. And like I said earlier, we research everything. As of July 2011, the word Mischief was not trademarked in association with any beer, brewery or alcohol related business. We immediately registered the business name in Arizona.
Fast forward a year later, we received a friendly phone call from another brewery, asking us ever so forcefully to change our name, as they had just filed for the trademark. Being the prepared planners we are, we consulted an attorney. And then we told them no.
We talked to several other breweries who had similar issues but had found ways to coexist. The last thing we wanted was the cost of a legal dispute. But we had a case. Even though we weren’t in business yet, we had built a following. We had Twitter and Facebook pages. We had T-shirts. We had stickers. Plus we really loved the name. We suggested a coexistence agreement. They told us we could probably work something out. And then we didn’t hear from them for almost two years.
Last year we were in the process of negotiating a lease (one of many that fell through, but that’s a story for a different day), so we reached out to them proactively. We were requesting something in writing that we had agreed to peacefully coexist. We knew they would have the right to set some boundaries. We get it, if you don’t protect your trademark, you can lose it. We forwarded them copies of all of our logos so they could see how different they were in style. We agreed to never distribute in their home state (we clearly told them we had no plans to distribute, we were just going to be a small local, brewpub), we agreed to NEVER call a specific beer Mischief. And then we waited. One month. Two months. Then three. And finally, we called them again. They told us they would send an email.
A few days later, we received an email from them that stated after careful consideration, they decided it was not in their best interest to work out a coexistence agreement with us. They claimed their Mischief beer was one of their most popular and a brewery called Mischief would be too confusing for their consumer.
As you can imagine, we were more than disappointed. After all this time, after everything we had submitted to show them how different we were, after basically agreeing to let them tell us what we could and couldn’t do with OUR brand, it came down to the fact that they did not have enough confidence in the intelligence of the craft beer drinker. And although we could have pursued it further, we decided it was not worth our time or money. We didn’t want to give up control of any part of our business, we had fought too hard to make what little progress we had.
We began considering new names. We briefly considered Mischievous. However, the owners of the Mischief trademark basically told us they would need to approve the use of any version of the word. We had no interest in participating in any further negotiations with them, so that name was ruled out quickly. Considering the fact that not much had gone our way since we started this process, we thought about Bad Luck Brewing. Of course, it was taken. Black Cloud Brewing? Taken. Bad News Brewing? Taken.
So there we were. Still no location, and now no name. It was a new low point in this journey. We began questioning whether or not we were even meant to do this. Was all this bad luck a sign that we should let this dream go? And then, a breakthrough. We came across a picture of Brandon’s great, great grandfather standing in front of his own brewery in Ogden, Utah in the late 1800’s. We had the right name all along, we just didn’t know it.
It was our name. It was perfect. And from that moment, everything else just fell into place.