Earlier this week, Sony Pictures filed a lawsuit against California’s Knee Deep Brewing for its IPA called Breaking Bud, the brewery’s best-selling beer that uses imagery on its label similar to the logo for the television series Breaking Bad.
Thursday, Knee Deep posted a response to the suit on Instagram from its CEO Jerry Moore, where he said that Sony knew about the beer when it was launched in 2015, and a representative had said, “We really appreciate the callout to our very popular show.”
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From our CEO, regarding our friends at Sony: I was surprised by the unexpected lawsuit filed against us by Sony yesterday, especially after they originally contacted us many years ago touting their appreciation of our Breaking Bud beer that made gentle fun of their show. Shortly after Breaking Bud was introduced, in early 2015, I actually received an email from a Sony representative that said, “It seems the Knee Deep team are big fans of Breaking Bad and we really appreciate the call out to our very popular show.” Soon thereafter I spoke with the Sony representative and we discussed the potential benefits of a formal partnership between Knee Deep and Sony but we ultimately decided not to pursue such a partnership because, among other things, our label has always been meant as a joke and not something seriously connected to the show. At no point, during those discussions, did Sony ever threaten to sue Knee Deep over the name of the beer. I’ve always been under the impression that Sony had no issue with our Breaking Bud beer since, after all, the Sony rep is the one who told me he “appreciate(ed) the call out to our very popular show” which is hardly what one would expect from someone who thinks they can sue you for the “call out” if you don’t pay them a licensing fee, which is what I gather they now want from us. Breaking Bud is one of our more successful beers, and I think our customers appreciate that the quirky label is a joke. No one has ever thought the joke meant we were endorsed by Breaking Bad. We are a small brewery and I don’t appreciate the distraction, not to mention the expense of having to deal with something that should have been addressed 3 years ago if Sony really had an issue with it. At the end of the day, the quality of the beer is what has made Breaking Bud popular and we should all be able to take a joke.
Moore says that at no point during the discussions did Sony suggest it had an issue with the beer, nor did it threaten a lawsuit over its name or label. He also says that the beer’s label was intended to be a “joke,” which is how he feels customers have taken it.
Sony is suing Knee Deep for trademark infringement and unfair competition and is seeking monetary damages as well as an injunction to prevent the brewery from using the Breaking Bud name and its current logo going forward.