Back in October, we posted a blog from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, discussing a trademark dispute involving its Belgian-style white beer Namaste. An Austin, Texas, beer emporium called Whip In began brewing under the name Namaste Brewing Co., even though Dogfish Head retains a trademark on the name. Dogfish Head wanted the company to change the name, but noted it was looking for an amicable solution to the situation. Namaste Brewing Co.’s Dipak Topiwala (who eventually changed the name to Kamala Brewing) was not very happy about the outcome, according to this recent Forbes interview:
Topiwala, whose parents are from India, recalled his initial reaction to Dogfish’s request: “It was basically, WTF? with the sentiment that irony is stranger than fiction.” He was soon referring to Calagione’s threat as a brand of “cultural imperialism,” deeming Dogfish’s behavior decidedly “un-namaste.” The dispute eventually spiraled into the social media, where misinformation swirled. Initially, though, Topiwala and Calagione addressed the matter “brewer to brewer” through an exchange of frankly worded emails.
According to the article, Namaste, which originates in India, is essentially a ubiquitous greeting that embodies the belief “that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra.” Of course, it’s hard to fight a trademark and with it, Dogfish Head is well within its right to name a beer Namaste, regardless of its origin or affiliation.
“With Namaste, we have to protect the name of our beer or we lose it,” noted Dogfish Head in its post. But Topiwala is sticking to his guns, calling the trademark move imperialistic, which might be a bit of stretch for Dogfish Head’s size, scope and mission. Here’s a quote from Topiwala from the same article, taken from an email addressed to Dogfish owner Sam Calagione.
“While you have demonstrated a civility and consideration characteristic of camaraderie and bonhomie of brewers, it is apparent that you do not understand the level of cultural appropriation and imperialism that y’all’re want to enforce upon us with our use of the term namaste to represent ourselves from our own heritage. That y’all should make the term Namaste a trademark is emblematic of your blindness to how the word is used outside of your societal norms. Offering to license it out to us further exemplifies your willingness to play the continuing imperial role upon outsiders of your stature and culture.”