Between a Marble and a Hard Place

5 March 2011 by , 4 Comments

Hello Knoxville,

It’s been one helluva week in the local beer market. When the news broke on Wednesday regarding the trademark suit that Marble City Brewing Company is dealing with the local beer community was in an uproar. I cannot say that I have seen anything quite like this in my 11 years in Knoxville. However, you spoke, and loudly at that (albeit perhaps a bit coarsely). Both Marble City Brewing Company’s Facebook page and Marble Brewery’s Facebook page lit up with both comments of support and disdain. At one point Marble Brewery had to remove a slew of negative posts from their page. It was perhaps this removal and subsequent silence that followed that fueled the fire. However, when dealing with legal matters, one has to tread lightly. In this day and age when any of us (including the two morons writing this now) can write whatever we want at whatever point we want, well, sometimes emotions get the best of us. Many of us in Knoxville felt like our little brewing company that was just getting on it’s feet was being picked on and we were enraged. Given the info we had at the time, we can’t blame a one of you. A lot of us felt like a kid on Christmas Eve who’s uncle told him Santa may not come because Santa may have violated some reindeer labor laws (don’t worry, I’ve already worked that out with my therapist – I’m fine now, really).

We don’t think anyone could have anticipated what has occurred over the last week. When it all boils down to it, we’re all very passionate about craft beer – wherever it’s from. The other side of craft beer, is that it is a business, just like everything else – people depend on the success of that business to put food on their tables and gas in their cars (holy crap $3.35 a gallon? really?). Jeff Jinnett, President and Owner of Marble Brewery sent us all a memo this past week if you have’t already seen it, you can find it here. The bottom line, is that to protect the trademark of his company, in essence the brand he’s worked to create, he must protect that trademark. Failure to do so, in the eyes of our government, will result in dissolution of that trademark. I think if any of us were in his shoes, we’d do the same thing to protect what we’ve built.

Now, this is not to point the finger of blame at our friends at Marble City Brewing Company. There are certainly egos, pride and emotions on both sides of the ball here. We can sit here all day and argue over who is at fault until we’re blue in the face. Let me say this as clearly as I can – it doesn’t matter who is at fault. What matters now is where Marble City Brewing Company and Marble Brewing go from here. Don and I both have been in touch with all parties and we get the general┬áconsensus┬áthat everyone is ready to find a common ground and move past this. Ultimately these guys are in the business to sell beer. KnoxBeerSnobs is here to consume said beer and share the love of beer throughout the land! (Don thought that was funny).

In all seriousness, Knoxville, let’s stop the hate. While speaking with Jeff yesterday, he said, “[craft] beer is a very emotional experience. Beer tastes better when you feel good about your brewery.” That has stuck with me. We want to see Marble City Brewing Company succeed and honestly, when it comes down to it, we want Marble Brewery’s beer here too. Competition is good for us all and creates a better product. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some collaborative work in the future between these guys.

So, let’s hear it. If you’ve got some creative suggestions or solutions, add them to the comments below (sorry guys, we’ve got to approve them due to the crappy Word Press comment spam we get).

To Adam, Jonathan and Jeff – we wish you all the best in finding a solution and please know, that we’re all behind you guys.