The Sun has come out.
I’m not talking about the weather. I’m referring to the legal struggle between Arizona State University and SanTan Brewing Company over the name of the microbrewery’s Sun Devil Ale.
The beer’s new name? Devil’s Ale.
That’s right. All the controversy, media attention and legal fees came down to just one word.
Of course, Shafer never officially entered the downtown Chandler microbrewery’s month-long contest to rename the West Coast-style American ale.
But when explaining to the Tribune why Tempe’s Four Peaks was allowed to market a new beer called Devil’s Pitchfork Ale, she noted, “‘Sun Devil’ is a federally registered trademark that belongs to ASU, and we have rights and obligations to protect that. But ‘Devil’s’ and ‘Pitchfork’ – we have no legal rights to do anything with regard to those phrases.”
That was good enough for SanTan owner and brewmaster Anthony Canecchia (pictured above), whose David-vs.-Goliath fight with the school has been covered by every major Valley media outlet.
While it’s not likely Shafer will be accepting the contest’s grand prize of a keg of Devil’s Ale, two runners-up were chosen: Bud Thomas of Scottsdale, who suggested Devilz Ale, and Mark Turner of Chandler, who suggested Devils Tail Ale. Each receives a small keg.
You’d have to say SanTan is the big winner in this fight. For the somewhat minor change from Sun Devil Ale to Devil’s Ale, it received tens of thousands of dollars worth of free publicity.
On the hand, what did ASU achieve – besides coming off as a bully picking on a small local business? In a Valley where you can find Sun Devil Auto, Sun Devil Electric, Sun Devil Liquors and Sun Devil Plumbing (just to name a few), can ASU really claim it has protected the integrity of its “Sun Devil” trademark?