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Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn Sued By Sony

AUBURN (CBS13) - Knee Deep Brewing Company is knee deep in a legal battle with Sony over its Breaking Bud beer.

Sony claims the name infringes on the trademark of its show, "Breaking Bad." Not only is Sony suing for damages, it's also asking Knee Deep Brewing to pull Breaking Bud from shelves.

Knee Deep's CEO says he was stunned by the lawsuit. He released a statement saying "I was surprised by the unexpected lawsuit filed against us by Sony yesterday (Tuesday), especially after they originally contacted us many years ago touting their appreciation of our Breaking Bud beer that made gentle fun of their show. Shortly after Breaking Bud was introduced, in early 2015, I actually received an email from a Sony representative that said, 'it seems the Knee Deep team are big fans of Breaking Bad and we really appreciate the call out to our very popular show.' Soon thereafter I spoke with the Sony representative and we discussed the potential benefits of a formal partnership between Knee Deep and Sony but we ultimately decided not to pursue such a partnership because, among other things, our label has always been meant as a joke and not something seriously connected to the show. At no point, during those discussions, did Sony ever threaten to sue Knee Deep over the name of the beer. I've always been under the impression that Sony had no issue with our Breaking Bud beer since, after all, the Sony rep is the one who told me he 'appreciate(ed) the call out to our very popular show' which is hardly what one would expect from someone who thinks they can sue you for the 'call out' if you don't pay them a licensing fee, which is what I gather they now want from us. Breaking Bud is one of our more successful beers, and I think our customers appreciate that the quirky label is a joke. No one has ever thought the joke meant we were endorsed by Breaking Bad. We are a small brewery and I don't appreciate the distraction, not to mention the expense of having to deal with something that should have been addressed 3 years ago if Sony really had an issue with it. At the end of the day, the quality of the beer is what has made Breaking Bud popular and we should all be able to take a joke."

Breaking Bud is an India Pale Ale. It was awarded the Bronze Medal in the American IPA category at the 2016 Great America Beer Festival. Knee Deep describes it as featuring "the restrained bitterness and alcohol of a classic IPA with newer tropical fruit hop flavors and aromas of Mosaic." Breaking Bud is one of Knee Deep's year round beers.

Knee Deep Brewing Co. started in 2010, according to the website. It opened a brewery in Lincoln in 2011 before moving to Auburn.

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