(AFP) – Aug 21, 2012
BOGOTA — Two Colombian businessmen are engaged in a legal battle with 20th Century Fox over their right to produce beer inspired by the long-running animated series The Simpsons.
Originally named Duff Beer -- like the beer that Homer Simpson drinks on the show -- the company has since changed it to DuH Beer, as the stylized ffs on the bottle label could also be seen as a capital H.
"It's delicious, and incredible to be able to drink a beer from The Simpsons without having to go to Moe's tavern," smiled Carla, 27, as she lifted a mug of the frothy ale at a Bogota bar.
The beer is the brainchild Alvaro and Oscar Ballesteros, two brothers who in 2006 decided to produce a real Duff Beer. The following year they founded Duff Sudamerica in Bogota, and in 2008 they registered the trademark.
The microbrewed Golden Ale beer has no additives and costs between $4 and $6, 26 year-old Oscar Ballesteros told AFP.
"In 2009 we sold our first beers to bars in Bogota, and now we are in seven other Colombian cities, with a national production of 24,000 units a month," added his brother Alvaro, 31. The beer is also sold in Brazil and Chile.
20th Century Fox, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, was not amused. They sued the brothers for copyright infringement in Colombia -- only to see the Ballesteros claim that it was no longer 'Duff,' but 'DuH' beer.
"The fact that 20th Century Fox does not have such a product in the market does not mean (the Ballesteros) can take advantage of a brand," said Alicia Lloreda, a Colombian attorney with the local affiliate of News Corp.
"What does 20th Century Fox want? Simply that the product is taken off the market because the brand doesn't belong to them," said Lloreda.
Government regulators agreed with 20th Century Fox last week and ordered the brothers to cease production, distribution and sales of the beer in Colombia.
Legal challenges have also halted Duff -- or DuH -- beer sales in Argentina, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand.
Duff Sudamerica attorney Santiago Mora vowed to appeal the Colombia decision.
"We are not going to let ourselves be frightened by a multinational," said Mora. "We are going to fight a battle that is just starting. We will defend our rights."
Alvaro Ballesteros insists they are not usurping, copying or taking advantage of 20th Century Fox's brand, "simply because they in reality do not have it. It appears only in cartoons, in a fictional world.
"Anyway, they are different brands and here in Colombia we trademarked it and produced it first," Ballesteros said.
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