N.S. craft brewery changes name of 'Damn Skippy' brew to avoid trademark battle
When the guys behind Off Track Brewing came up with a stout beer, using real peanut butter as the key ingredient, they needed a name.
"We were brainstorming one day, and Jon just said, 'You know what, Damn Skippy, it's just jumping out to me, it'd be a really good name,'" said Allan MacKay of Off Track Brewing in Bedford, N.S.
And so it was.
Damn Skippy became a popular part of the craft brewery's lineup when they opened in 2017.
That is, until it became a little too popular, and was posted on social media.
"I think somebody might have tagged it with the hashtag 'Skippy' and so the makers of Skippy peanut butter weren't too happy about that," said MacKay.
While the recipe doesn't contain Skippy peanut butter, the parent company behind the brand sent a cease-and-desist letter in June, telling the brewery to tap out on the name, or face legal action.
"Trademark owners have agencies that watch to make sure that their brand isn't being infringed by others," said Marc Belliveau, a trademark agent with the Dartmouth law firm of BoyneClarke.
Belliveau says, in cases like this, the courts consider whether consumers would actually confuse the two products -- and the intent of the parties involved.
"Sometimes, the cease-and-desist letter has no merit, and that it's really just intended to scare the little guy," Belliveau said.
Even though Skippy peanut butter was discontinued in Canada two years ago -- months before the brewery opened -- the owners decided to give in after consulting their lawyer.
"We're gonna switch it up, so it's not a big loss," said MacKay. "The beer stays the same, which is good."
When it comes to the peanut butter stout, the last time consumers will be able to taste it under the name "Damn Skippy" will be this coming Sunday.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Hormel Foods tells CTV News:
"In this instance, we reached out to the brewery as they were using our whole trademark in a manner that made it seem like their product contained our Skippy peanut butter and was affiliated with or endorsed by our company… We were glad to have been able to work out a solution with the brewery."
Said MacKay: "If someone that big in a different country is looking at us and getting upset, then we did something good."
As the peanut butter beer gets a new name, the owners of Off Track Brewing say they will toast their time in the spotlight.
As of Wednesday, the brew will be called "Illuminutti."
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek.