Wildfire Brewery, Bend’s youngest beer-producing company, recently received notification that the business’s name violates copyright laws and therefore must change its title or head to the courtroom.
Wildfire restaurants – a chain of eateries with locations in Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia and Georgia – sent a letter earlier this month to the owners of Wildfire Brewery informing them that they were in violation of a trademarked title. The letter strongly suggested that the brewery changes its name within six months, said Paul Cook, a co-owner and brewer for Wildfire.
Rather than take the issue to court, Cook said the Bend suds producer opted to change their business name.
“We’re a young company so we decided to raise the white flag,” Cook said.
It is not unusual for restaurants to trademark their names, advertising slogans, product names and company logos. In this case, Cook said the owners of Wildfire Brewery simply made a mistake.
In addition to changing the name from Wildfire, owners of the brewery will also have to change all tap handles at the more than two dozen restaurants and bars where their beer is currently being served. There will a “significant, but not huge” cost associated with changing the brewery’s name and replacing all ads and tap handles, Cook said. Because Wildfire does not sell t-shirts, growlers and sparsely advertises, changing the business’s name is not a huge blow to the company, according to Cook.
As for a new name to replace Wildfire, Cook said he and his business partners currently have a list of five they are trying to narrow down. The owners of Wildfire Brewery – which opened in April 2007 – are also reaching out the public for help creating a new name. Fliers are being distributed throughout Central Oregon where patrons can write down what they think should be a new name for the brewery. If Wildfire Brewery owners choose one of the names suggested, the individual who creates it will be given a free kegerator.
In the mean time, Wildfire Brewery will continue to produce beer and will not shut down during this transition time, Cook said.
“It’s better that this happens now than if it did in like five years,” Cook said. “This is one of those things that you just can’t fight.”