ASU official wins SanTan's beer-renaming contest

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.

SanTan BrewingAnd the winner of the month-long contest to rename it? None other than Terri Shafer, ASU’s associate vice president of public affairs.

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?

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4 Responses to ASU official wins SanTan's beer-renaming contest

  1. tommy says:

    It’s too bad Anthony didn’t choose my suggestion – “Sun Devel Ale”. Oh well.

  2. I wonder what legal fees he had to pay? It’s too bad they did the poor guy like that. For one, “sun devil” is a pretty generic term that a person should be able to use in his business name. And two, the logo doesn’t even look anything like ASU’s! The third reason this is lame is because the poor guy probably thought he was in the clear when everyone else was using the term in their name.

  3. Debra J. White says:

    ASU has a stack of lawyers in house and on retainer to grind people into a pulp. Crow’s litigation budget is in the multi millions. He will stop at nothing, not even the state’s worst budget crisis since the historic great depression. If he wants to get someone, he will spend whatever it takes or do whatever it takes, even if that includes shady behavior.

  4. Jenna says:

    They didn’t actually sue SanTan. They THREATENED to sue them. They changed the name due to the pressures and seriousness of the situation. All this required was a strongly worded letter from some high-price a-holes.

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