Ale maker criticizes ASU enforcement - East Valley Tribune: News

Ale maker criticizes ASU enforcement

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Posted: Friday, January 8, 2010 6:46 pm | Updated: 3:38 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Arizona State University is insisting that a Chandler micro brewery find a new name for its Sun Devil Ale.

There's a Sun Devil Auto, Sun Devil Electric, Sun Devil Liquors and Sun Devil Plumbing, not to mention Sun Devil Pool Supply and Sun Devil Termite and Pest Control.

But Arizona State University is insisting that a Chandler micro brewery find a new name for its Sun Devil Ale.

To Anthony Canecchia, owner of the SanTan Brewing Co. at 8 S. San Marcos Plaza in Chandler, which makes the beer, it amounts to hypocrisy.

But for Arizona State University, it's all entirely consistent.

The biggest issue for Canecchia is the apparent inconsistency between ASU's demands that he change the name of his ale while the ASU young alumni association is promoting events to launch a beer called Devil's Pitchfork Pale Ale being made by a rival micro brewery in Tempe.

To ASU officials, Devil's Pitchfork Pale Ale is permissible but Sun Devil Ale isn't. The difference is that ASU has exclusive rights to use of the phrase "Sun Devil" but doesn't have similar rights to the word "pitchfork."

"'Sun Devil' is a federally registered trademark that belongs to ASU, and we have rights and obligations to protect that," said Terri Shafer, ASU's associate vice president of public affairs. "But 'Devil's' and 'Pitchfork' - we have no legal rights to do anything with regard to those phrases."

As for the young alumni association hosting events to launch Devil's Pitchfork Pale Ale, Shafer similarly said that the university has no legal right to prevent that.

"They (alumni association members) are over 21, they are not students," she said. "Adults can do what they want to do."

Shafer said the university rejects any licensing agreements that use ASU-trademarked words on alcoholic beverages, including the words "Arizona State University," "ASU" and "Sun Devil" and images of the official university seal, university logo and Sparky mascot. The university also claims rights to its pitchfork mark but not the word "pitchfork," she said.

ASU doesn't want its name or symbols on alcoholic drinks because of concerns about sending the wrong message to undergraduate students, most of whom are under the legal drinking age, she said. But if SanTan decides to rename its product to something else that has devilish connotations but doesn't specifically use the trademarked words, there's nothing the university could do, she said.

In a letter to SanTan Brewing, an attorney for the Board of Regents demanded that SanTan "cease all use of both Sun Devil Ale as well as any pitchfork related marks. ... ASU views your Sun Devil Ale as a counterfeit product, which bears a label that is intended to violate the rights of ASU. A finding of counterfeiting will result in enhanced damages in the event of litigation."

Instead of fighting ASU in court, Canecchia has launched a "Rename the Devil Contest" in which he is asking patrons to suggest a new name and logo for the beer. But he still thinks ASU's trademark enforcement of his product while allowing the alumni association to promote Devil's Pitchfork Pale Ale is hypocritical.

"They say they are worried about underage drinking, but it (Devil's Pitchfork) is in bars all around ASU," he said.

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