Because The Tragically Hip long ago secured its place among Canada’s musical legends, the band has a legacy to protect. It appears that that is exactly what the group originally from Kingston, Ontario, is trying to do with its lawsuit alleging trademark infringement by Mill Street Brewery.
Mill Street is a subsidiary of Labatt Brewing Company, which is itself owned by AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer.
The Hip alleges in documents filed in Federal Court that Mill Street is trying to use the band’s “fame, goodwill and reputation” to sell its 100th Meridian beer.
As fans of The Hip know, “At The Hundredth Meridian” was a hit on their 1992 breakthrough album, “Fully Completely.”
Tragically Hopped, too
It’s possible that Mill Street might point out to the Ontario court that other brewers have sold products marketed with Hip references without being sued, including Phillips Brewing’s Fully Completely IPA and Great North Aleworks’ Tragically Hopped Double IPA.
The band says in its suit that it wants Mill Street to stop potentially confusing marketing of the amber lager, to publicly declare that the beer has nothing to do with the band, and to pay more than $500,000 in damages.
According to a news report, The Tragically Hip has alleged in social media that Mill Street has been trying to link the band to the beer with misleading social media posts.
The band cited a Mill Street Facebook post that says its 100th Meridian is “an appropriate beer to celebrate The Tragically Hip playing Yonge and Dundas Square” in Toronto in 2014.
Also cited in the lawsuit was a Mill Street Brewpub Facebook ad that said the St. John’s, N.L. bar location would play a recording of The Hip’s last concert, and that there would be a special on glasses of 100th Meridian throughout the show.
In its response to the lawsuit, Mill Street stated that it’s “disappointed” but that it’s “confident that the claim is without merit.”