While I get they are both local breweries and are competing for the same market, to me this boils down to Troegs either wanting free publicity or they are hurting because they put out an inferior product.
Notice that Troeg is not going after any of the Ridgeway Brewery “Elfs” out of England. There they have Bad, Criminally Bad, Insanely Bad and Seriously Bad. Probably because Ridgeway has been around longer, has more capital for lawsuits and has an international market share…..ie, a losing case for Troeg.
What is interesting is that Fegley Brew Works (makers of Rude Elf) have had to increase capacity by 30% to meet demand (allowing them to produce 48K Gallons of beer). This doesn’t sound like a marketing/confusion issue…but instead, consumers finding a product they like better.
Now, let’s compare the advertised flavors of the beers-
Rude Elf’s Reserve is billed as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale with 2-row pale & caramel malts, dark Belgian Candy Sugar, & three Belgian yeast strains. Brewed with hints of Holiday spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & clove, hopped with German Tettnang hops.
The Mad Elf is described as a cheerful creation to warm your heart and enlighten your tongue. The combination of Cherries, Honey, and Chocolate Malts delivers gentle fruits and subtle spices. Fermented and aged with a unique yeast, this ruby red beer has significant warming strength that underlies the pleasant character of this intriguing yet delicious Ale.
To me, Cherries, Honey and Chocolate are vastly different flavors than Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger/Clove and Hops.
As you can also see below, their labels don’t even look the same. The colors are opposing and the Mad Elf is portrayed as Crazy, so how does that liken to being Rude.
In the end, this is a frivolous lawsuit and I challenge both breweries to send me a 6-pack where I will line up a blind tasting. Let the Consumer Decide……and Merry Christmas.
Two elves walk into a bar — one’s mad, the other’s rude. They both, by the by, enjoy beer.
What emerges a few years later is not a pile of Christmas toys, but rather a trademark cease-and-desist fight between two of Pennsylvania’s independent breweries. In one corner, sporting a fur-rimmed red hat and a sack full of goodies, is the face of Troegs Brewing Co.’s Mad Elf Ale. In the other: the rather crazed-appearing mascot who graces the bottles of Bethlehem Brew Works’ Rude Elf’s Reserve.
The meeting ground for this quarrel is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where Troegs is asking the government to cancel Bethlehem’s trademark registration of Rude Elf’s Reserve.
Bethlehem didn’t trademark the name until 2006, two years after Troegs’ first trademark on the Mad Elf name appears at the Patent and Trademark Office.
Discovery in the petition began Monday, but according to the trademark office’s website, the legal challenge by Troegs could stretch into next year.
Troegs, whose Mad Elf has become almost ubiquitous around the Christmas season in the midstate, claims that the two elves are likely to cause confusion among beer drinkers.
That’s due, Troegs said, to the "adjective" elf-naming convention — and the fact that in 2010, Bethlehem began expanding the sales of its holiday ale into the same stores as Mad Elf.
Both beers are seasonal, high-alcohol-content holiday drinks and both, of course, feature an elf prominently on the label.
In its response to Troegs’ petition, Bethlehem flatly denies all of the brewery’s allegations.
Jeff Fegley, president and owner of Fegley Brew Works, which owns Bethlehem Brew Works, said in a statement that Troegs was seeking to "monopolize the word ‘elf’ in advertising its beer."
"We do not think the law recognizes such exclusivity," he said