An interesting legal ruling out of the Canadian Federal Trial Division yesterday. Well, interesting if you like beer, horses or trademark law... and fascinating if you like all three. Let's just skip to the pithy nub of the case found at paragraph 39:
The Board did not consider that what it was doing was, in effect, granting to Molson a trade-mark monopoly over the word HORSE of any colour (green, golden, brown, blue, etc.) in relation to beer. The breadth of that monopoly is unreasonable.
See, the owner of the beer of the horse that is black wanted the court to rule that the beer of the horse that is red could confuse people looking for beer of the horse that is black. The court disagreed, noting as stated above that there is no monopoly in beers named for horses of any colours. Got it? Make sense? Good. I was struck how many horse beers there are in Canada - Black Horse, Red Horse, Dark Horse, Iron Horse and Cheval Blanc as well as Golden Horseshoe are named by the court. There's another horse word for a lot of other beer in Canada. Best bit from the ruling, however, is this yuk-fest from the Honourable Mr. Justice Phelan found in paragraph 2:
The potential for the use of phrases such as “this is a horse of a different colour” or equine and beer jokes jump out at one. The Court will refrain from such frivolities for this is a case about beer and a case of beer is a serious matter.
Please. Someone. Tape up my ribs. Judge is making funny fun. It is to laugh.