South Burlington, Vermont-based Woodchuck Coffee Roasters is being sued by the makers of Woodchuck Hard Cider for trademark infringement over the word woodchuck, a term often used to describe native Vermonters.
According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court and obtained by the Rutland Herald last week, the cider company, the largest in the United States, is seeking a financial award and an immediate injunction to prevent trademark infringement. Woodchuck Hard Cider is the premier brand of the Vermont Hard Cider Company, which was bought by the publicly traded Irish beverage company C&C Group last year for $305 million. The cider company’s slogan remains “independent to the core.”
Woodchuck Coffee Roasters was founded in 2011 by brothers Tony and Jim Basiliere, offering small-batch ethically sourced coffees online and locally. In a plea to the roastery’s Facebook fans, Tony wrote the following:
Well Fans, Woodchuck Coffee Roasters is facing a huge challenge. We will not be able to get through this without a lot of support. The Vermont Hard Cider Company filed a lawsuit against us. Apparently they believe that our use of woodchuck constitutes trademark infringement as they sell a product called Woodchuck Hard Cider. I am pretty sure that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is not to worried about the Green Mountain Creamery (by the way their yogurt is fantastic) but, for some reason the cider folks think they own woodchuck. Anyway, it is safe to say that Jim and I need all the help we can muster and we are open to any suggestions other than changing our name as we believe in standing up for what we think is right!