San Diego, CA - On December 20th, Hansen Beverage Company was stung by PBEV, LLC in a federal trademark infringement suit filed in Alabama federal court over use of the Killer-B Nitrous Monster Energy drink line. Stan Pate, owner of PBEV, LLC, quipped "I'm not afraid of a Monster" and that he would fight to protect his Killer-Buzz trademark.
PBEV, an Alabama-based beverage company, uses the combination of 17 amino acids, that it claims can provide the energy and stamina of the Asian Giant Hornet. The ingredients in Hansen's Killer-B drink include bee pollen and honey. A day after the December 20th filing, Hansen filed its own suit in Delaware federal court, asking that the case be thrown out. Hansen claims that there was no infringement and that it has been using the term "buzz" on its packaging since 2002. Hason also points to the use of its trademarked Monster claw-marks on the honey-combed can which it claims lessens any potential for confusion.
Since acquiring the drink line from Vespa Beverages in March 2010, PBEV has realized $1 million in sales of "Killer Buzz". Hansen reportedly has the lion's share with over $1 billion in energy drink sales in 2009.
According to USPTO.gov, the "Killer Buzz" trademark was first used in commerce in early 2005 while "Killer-B" has been in use since July 2009. Just over one year ago, Hansen challenged another small player when it sent a cease and desist letter to Rock Art Brewery asking them to stop using the name "Vermonster". The dispute was settled out of court when Hansen agreed to let the brewer continue using "Vermonster" as long as it only used the trademark for barley wine, and not for energy drinks.