Ogden brewery bout: Becker beer branding dispute hits federal court | News, Sports, Jobs

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Workers canning Becker’s Best beer, at Becker Brewing in Ogden circa 1940s.

Photo supplied, Karen Becker Edson

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Historical Becker’s Best beer branding, top, and Ogden River Brewing and Lotus Craft’s Becker’s Best branding, bottom, in a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office document.

Images supplied, Karen Becker Edson

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This undated photo shows Karen Becker Edson, left, with her daughter, Erin Ruzek, and grandson at Becker Lift, Snowbasin. The ski hill was named after the Becker brewery and its founders.

Photo supplied, Karen Becker Edson

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Pat Winslow stands outside the future location of his business, Ogden River Brewing, on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Ogden.

SARAH WELLIVER, Standard-Examiner

OGDEN — A great-granddaughter of the storied Becker brewery founder has gone to federal court to stop a modern craft brewer from using branding that evokes the history of the old business, which shut down in the 1960s.

John Stephan Becker and his sons Gustav and Albert founded the brewery in 1892 at 19th Street and Lincoln Avenue, according to the family. Over the decades, even after its closure, the brewery and its beers were a hallowed presence in Ogden. But Karen Becker Edson, whose father was Albert Becker’s son, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Dec. 16 accusing Ogden River Brewing and Lotus Craft of illegal appropriation of various Becker beer marks by the new Ogden brewery.

The dispute has been building for a few years. In 2021, attorneys for Edson, of Salt Lake City, sent letters to ORB and Lotus demanding that they quit using the Becker marks. The suit said the family was ignored and rebuffed at various points in their protests.

ORB, located at 358 Park Blvd., and Lotus Craft, of Salt Lake City, had not filed answers to the suit as of Tuesday. The court gave the defendants until Jan. 10 to file their answers.

Disputed branding on products, advertising and promotions includes Becker’s Best beer and fish and chips, Becker’s Mellow beer, Becker’s Premium Lager Co. and a goose logo.

In June, another family member, Kurt Gustav Becker, of Roswell, New Mexico, blasted ORB in a Standard-Examiner letter to the editor. “Our family never gave them permission to brew Becker’s Beer,” he said. “I am sure I speak for all of the Becker family in denouncing this veiled marketing ploy to profit from (our family’s) brewing tradition.”

Pat Winslow, who founded ORB with a Kickstarter campaign, responded in a letter that he was “ecstatic to think that I may be able to tread in the footprints of the original beer pioneers in Ogden. The more I learned about Becker Brewing the more I became enchanted by the journals and history of the Becker story, and passion for Ogden.”

He said ORB began brewing Becker’s Best beer “to honor the Becker family and the rich history they brought to Ogden and to the West.”

But he said there would be no change in ORB’s uses of Becker-themed branding.

“At the end of the day, you can’t trademark a name,” Winslow said. “We legally acquired the Becker’s trademark, which had been abandoned for sixty-plus years. We legally do not need anyone’s permission to make or sell a product.”

The suit, however, alleged that the defendant entities have violated various laws, including those addressing unfair competition, false designations of origin and endorsements, abuse of personal identity and violation of truth in advertising. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction forbidding use of the Becker branding and mandating payment of associated profits to the family.

The family also is intervening against efforts by Lotus Craft to obtain Becker service marks from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Community confusion about “who is behind the new use of Becker’s for beer” also has resulted, the suit said.

Furthermore, Edson “no longer has any ability to revive the Becker brand in conjunction with her own use of the brand, legitimate licensing, and/or joint collaboration in return for compensation, something she has considered doing,” the suit said.

The suit described Lotus Craft as a coordinator of ORB operations. Efforts to contact the Lotus CEO, Bryan Wrigley, and Winslow were not immediately successful. Edson’s attorney, Christopher Von Maack, did not immediately return a phone call.

The original brewery, Becker Brewing and Malting Co., was the most successful brewery in Ogden and perhaps the state, the family said. It was the only Utah brewery to have operated before, during and after Prohibition, they said. During Prohibition, the company produced sodas and other products.


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