The MPAA is best known for its efforts to protect the rights of the major movie studios. However, the group also has some intellectual property of its own to defend.
A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand.
The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.
The MPAA registered “Rated R” at the trademark office in the eighties as a certification mark, indicating that a movie is rated unsuitable for children under 17, unless they’re accompanied by an adult.
While movie ratings have nothing to do with beer, the MPAA took offense at the name after the brewery filed their own trademark application. According to 612 Brew co-founder Kasak, the MPAA didn’t want the beer makers to use any of the “Rated” variants.
“[Our beer] could have been PG, PG-13 or R. It didn’t matter. As long as it contained the word ‘rated’ it would still get flagged,” Kasak told Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.
An MPAA spokesperson confirmed that the group sent a cease and desist letter but further details are not available.
The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though, so 612 decided that it was easiest to change the name.
The trademark specifically notes that the MPAA doesn’t have an exclusive right to the word “rated,” but 612 Brew decided to go for a different variant.
Starting this year the name of “Rated R” beer was changed to “Unrated,” which isn’t trademarked by the MPAA. While the change is a setback for the brewery it’s co-founder doesn’t believe it will harm business in the long run.
“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it will be OK. It’s a great beer and they’ll drink it regardless of the name,” Kasak notes.
The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.