Bullies take half step back
The Sam Adams beer people are still behaving like arrogant dum-dums in their ongoing hassle of the fans of Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams over supposed trademark infringement in the use of internet domain names that contain the Adams name in connection with the politician's pending run for mayor.
A reader who sent a critical comment to the beer people yesterday tells us that he got this response:
Thank you for getting in touch. This story has really taken on a life of its own, and we'd like to take a minute to give you a little background."[P]eople have attempted to use our name for commercial purposes, and this clearly is against the law." I'm no trademark expert, but that doesn't sound to me like an accurate representation of the law. If there's no chance of anyone confusing "samadamsformayor" with anything having to do with the brewing company, what's their beef?
First, let me say that if City Councilor Sam Adams had registered a web site using his name, we would not have an issue with it. Of course, he has a right to use his name. Our namesake, the patriot Samuel Adams stood for public service and free speech, and we do too.
However, an individual named Dave Anderson registered two domain names: www.mayorsamadams.com and www.samadamsformayor.com. We could find no residential telephone listing for him at the address listed, so we wrote to him. There have been occasions in the past where people have attempted to use our name for commercial purposes, and this clearly is against the law. After he received our letter, we had a call from the legal department at Clear Channel and learned that Dave Anderson was a radio personality at Clear Channel's News radio 1190 KEX in Portland and that he had registered both domain names with the intent to give them to Councilor Sam Adams. Once we learned more about what was going on, we agreed that they could continue to use www.mayorsamadams.com. We asked them (and we thought we had their agreement) not to use www.samadamsformayor.com because it creates confusion on the Web.
While we understand that kicking up a controversy makes good radio, I hope you'll understand that it was never our intent to thwart the efforts of Councilor Sam Adams in his run for Mayor. We have no issue with him using his own name. A more extensive Google search on our part for “Sam Adams Mayor” was in order and might have turned up information about the race for Mayor in Portland before we sent off that letter.
We appreciate your taking the time to write to us and to give us a chance to explain how this all came about.
Consumer Relations Representative
The Boston Beer Company
"[W]e understand that kicking up a controversy makes good radio." Hey, nobody in Portland started the nastiness here. The ugly demand letter came from Boston, and people here are just sticking up for their rights.
"Once we learned more about what was going on, we agreed that they could continue to use www.mayorsamadams.com. We asked them (and we thought we had their agreement) not to use www.samadamsformayor.com because it creates confusion on the Web." Screw that. I read elsewhere that the brewing people's begrudging "permission" to use either domain was going to last only through the election. Screw that, too.
"Sam Adams" is a very, very, very common name. People who brand their companies with a very, very, very common name have to live with the consequences. Letting supporters of a real politician named Sam Adams express their support for him with an appropriately named web domain or two is just something that Boston Beer is going to have to live with.
Mark and Dave: Hold your ground, boys!
And the rest of us, stand with them. Fight back against corporate intellectual property bullying. Boycott Sam Adams beer!
UPDATE, 8:40 p.m.: Here's a petition that addresses the issue.