Chances are you didn’t get into commercial brewing for the business aspects of it. You love brewing, but not taxes or (even worse) trademark issues. Even the idea of having to deal with a trademark dispute sounds time-consuming and expensive. Most folks just call in the lawyers and release these hounds to do their bidding because they’re too damn busy to worry about how the law should be interpreted.
Thank Zeus, there are other ways — easier, safer and usually more cost-effective ways than courts and lawyers. OvalOptions for Conflict Management actually offers Brewery Mediation Network (BMN) services in areas nationwide. The program is aimed at connecting craft breweries with local providers of mediation, facilitation and associated services to assist in resolving costly disputes, most noticeably those involving trademarks.
After reading our poignant take on lawsuits and hostile fans — subtly titled “When breweries sue breweries, fans think they’re dicks,” Jason Gladfelter, owner and consultant for the BMN, dropped us a line.
“[That article] is so true and even more frustrating when breweries are too hasty in securing legal advocacy,” said Gladfelter via e-mail. “You may be interested to know about our Brewery Mediation Network that we unveiled in April of last year. We set it up to help breweries maneuver the trademark waters, among other challenges they face, to reach safe solutions. Mediation is the middle option for breweries, between do-it-yourself and sue-the-hell-outta-them.”
It’s a great option. Breweries that contact the BMN are guided through a dispute roadmap, shaped by their unique situation, examining issues ranging from inter-brewery disputes to workplace tension. Parent company OvalOptions then suggests the most appropriate service and provider in their network and contacts the other party. In certain instances, outside references may be given (e.g. legal advocacy).
The BMN program is a contractual partnership between OvalOptions and local mediation providers across the country. Each provider and their services are vetted and evaluated by OvalOptions. According to a recent press release:
“This brings together two collaborative industries — mediation and craft brewing — for the benefit of each,” Gladfelter said. “We hope the BMN helps local businesses help each other.”
Well said, Mr. Gladfelter. Well said.