Last week, we told you that much-loved tiki bar Painkiller was being forced to change its name to PKNY because of legal action brought about by Pusser’s Rum, which evidently owns the trademark to the Painkiller name. Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t sit too well with plenty of people, who felt that Pusser’s move didn’t just reek of corporate bullying, but also that it totally harshed on the whole live-and-let-live tiki vibe, bro. Well, yesterday Pusser’s founder Charles Tobias responded to his critics, and it hasn’t really made the situation any better.
In his statement, Tobias writes:
We’ve been made out to be the bad guys, a giant bully towering over the little guys at PKNY. Nothing could be further from the truth. We ship about 30,000 cases annually. By comparison, sales of Bacardi and Captain Morgan in the U.S. are 9,400,000 and 6,200,000 respectively. So what we really are, with our 30,000 cases, is a little guy whose annual sales dollar volume is lower than thousands of well run bars in United States where many of you work.
Under trademark law, if the trademark owner is aware of a third party’s infringement and does not move to correct it, the trademark is not sustainable if challenged in court. We could not risk losing this mark because it would’ve wiped out two good commercial opportunities that we see for our company’s future. Several years of work would have gone down the drain. For 8 years, we’ve been working on a Painkiller Mix and looking at the chance for a Painkiller RTD (Ready-to-Drink Painkiller in a can). Losing the Painkiller trademarks would take away all chances of success for these products.
Dudes! If you’re going to force one of New York’s best bars, one that lots of people love, to change its name, maybe don’t let people know that you did so because you’re planning on marketing a cocktail in a can. You’re not going to drum up a lot of sympathy from the people who support Painkiller PKNY, because it’s a bar that makes all of its drinks fresh. (If you haven’t had that Scotch-and-banana punch that they make, you are missing out — it’s killer.)
Anyway, the Facebook group called Bartenders and Cocktailians against Pusser’s Rum has added a few new members since the statement was first released and is also using the sales figures cited by Tobias as fodder for their campaign: “Pusser’s says 30,000 cases a year was the number before all this, can we spread this far and wide enough to make it 10,000 cases this year?”
PUSSER’S RESPONSE [Pusser’s Rum]
Bartenders and Cocktailians against Pusser’s Rum [Facebook]
Related:Painkiller Gets Shout-outs, But Has to Change Its Name