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Maine brewery brings defamation claims against Logboat

The Maine brewery accusing Columbia-based Logboat Brewing Company of copyright infringement now says Logboat defamed its reputation after the lawsuit was filed.

Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland, Maine, filed an amended lawsuit on Tuesday in Missouri’s Western District federal court. The new version, from Shipyard’s attorney Darren Sharp, claims Logboat directed a deluge of negative reviews on Shipyard’s Facebook page shortly after they sued.

Shipyard, which began trademarking its name and logos in the early 1990s, sued over alleged similarities of its craft beer product to the ones Logboat began selling in 2014. The lawsuit claims that a few days after they filed suit, one-star reviews began flooding their page. One of those, the lawsuit claims, may have came from a relative of Logboat co-founder Judson Ball.

Of Shipyard’s 193 comments on its Facebook page, 189 of them blast the company for the lawsuit.

The company’s Facebook page sports 2,079 reviews. More than 1,000 of them are five-star reviews, while 343 of them are one-star reviews.

The new lawsuit also claims Logboat CEO Tyson Hunt “used Shipyard’s Trademarks without consent and in the face of a prior cease and desist order.”

Logboat’s attorney Nikki Cannezarro called the defamation claim “meritless” in its opposition to Shipyard filing an amended lawsuit. Cannezarro wrote that the amended lawsuit did not prove that any of Logboat’s employees had anything to do with the negative Facebook comments.

“The general public’s disdain for [Shipyard’s] lawsuit as evidenced by bad reviews is hardly sufficient to support a defamation claim against Logboat,” Cannezarro said.

Shipyard claims Logboat’s “Shiphead Ginger Wheat” product in particular violated previous trademakrs Shipyard had. The company has several products with both the prefix “Ship-” and the suffix “-head,” and feared Logboat’s product would cause confusion. Shipyard sent Logboat a cease and desist order in 2016, and filed the lawsuit in May 2017.

The lawsuit also claims the color palette of Logboat’s cans and the schooner hairstyle of the woman on the Shiphead can look similar to some of Shipyard’s products.

Logboat posted a response to the lawsuit on its Facebook page after the lawsuit was filed.

“Logboat’s Shiphead Ginger Wheat trademark was registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following examination by a Trademark Examiner, and successfully passed through the public opposition phase,” the company wrote. “Logboat’s mark was never challenged during the registration process as being likely to cause confusion with the trademark of any other party.”

Judge Nanette Laughrey allowed Shipyard to file the new lawsuit more than a month after the deadline passed to change their petition. Sharp wrote that the company had the wrong date in mind when considering whether or not it would bring the new claims forward. Laughrey considered the mistake “excusable neglect,” and allowed them to file the new petition.

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