Citizens Brewing Co. is months away from opening, but the Silver Spring craft beermaker already needs to find a new name. On Dec. 5, DC Brau sent its embryonic competitor a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that Citizens has violated its trademark of the word “citizen” in the context of anything beer-related. Earlier today, Citizens announced that it would comply, promising to reveal a new name today. (Update, 4:54 p.m. The new name is Denizens, the Post reports.)
Why the litigious turn from DC Brau, D.C.’s most popular homegrown beer? Easy: One of the company’s flagship beers is The Citizen. In an interview, DC Brau co-founder Brandon Skall said he feared that a nearby Citizens Brewing Co. would create confusion for customers. The soon-to-be-former Citizens Brewing Co. is scheduled to open next summer.
“We just saw that as an area of confusion,” Skall said, speculating that costumers who asked for a “Citizen” at a local bar could feasibly be served either DC Brau’s The Citizen or beer made by Citizens Brewing Co.
“It’s certainly not an insignificant thing to change a name, but we are taking this in stride,” Citizens Brewing Co. co-owner Emily Bruno said in a statement. “Our goal is to get our doors open this summer, which is why we’ve decided to move on, change our name, and not spend the thousands of dollars required to fight the Cease and Desist order from DC Brau.”
Skall hopes people understand that DC Brau did not act maliciously, but because of the two breweries’ close proximity to one another. “We really are compatriots fighting together for the betterment and movement of craft beer,” he said.
(Hat tip to DC Beer, which first reported on the cease and desist letter.)
Photo by Darrow Montgomery