Homer Simpson’s favourite beer’s popularity sparks legal row

Homer Simpson’s favourite beer’s popularity sparks legal row

The alcoholic beverage of choice for Homer Simpson, the cartoon character of the show The Simpsons, is giving rise to trademark disputes in several countries as producers are looking to bring the fictional drink into reality, reports The Huffington Post.

Twentieth Century Fox, which runs the series, is currently engaged in a trademark dispute in Colombia where two brothers have been producing, and successfully selling, the favourite beer of the animated character. In the show, which has been running successfully for more than 20 years, Homer is frequently seen drinking ‘Duff Beer’.

Twentieth Century Fox, which is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, does not produce beer, but is reluctant to let other companies produce the fictional character’s drink. If companies brand their products after the TV series, the profits generated from sales, which Fox does not get a part of, are largely thanks to the name of the product.

Trademark disputes

News Corporation has been involved in several legal disputes, in various countries, in which producers have tried to make Homer Simpson’s beer into reality. For instance, in 1996 an Australian court held that a producer could not legally produce and sell ‘Duff beer’, which was a victory for News Corp. However, in April of this year the German brewer Duff Beer UG managed to register its trademark and began selling the beer, which can now be found in central London.

Colombian brothers defend trademarked drink

The most recent legal dispute for the multibillion dollar company relating to the beer involves two Colombian brothers, Alvaro and Oscar Ballesteros. The Ballesteros brothers founded Duff Sudamerica in 2007, and trademarked it the subsequent year. In 2009, they began selling their ‘Duff beer’, which they have subsequently renamed to ‘DuH Beer’.

The brothers’ lucrative beer production has been temporarily haltered as they are involved in a legal battle to continue producing the beverage. Twentieth Century Fox is accusing the two Colombian brothers of copyright infringement.

The company is arguing that the fact that it does not produce such a beverage does not give others the right to make the fictional drink into a real product, and benefit from its good reputation. The brothers have argued that there is no reason why they can’t produce the beer, as it only appears in cartoons.

Alvaro Ballesteros has said: “It appears only in cartoons, in a fictional world. Here in Colombia we trademarked it and produced it first”.

Fox is getting support from Colombian Government regulators, who have ordered the two brothers to cease production, distribution and sales of the beer. This is having a negative financial impact on the Ballesteros and their business. As such, Duff Sudamerica is planning to appeal the decision. And of course, this could have an enormous impact on future cases. Who wouldn’t buy Sex Panther if they could?


The Huffington Post

The Drinks Business

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