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Jun 14, 2011 06:02 PM

Pusser's Rum = SCUM [moved from Spirits board]

BTW, their contention that they invented the Painkiller is total BS. It pre-dates their trademarking of the recipe by many years.

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  1. And the other side of the story

    No mention anywhere that they invented the drink, just that they trademarked it.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ncyankee101

      So they're saying that in order to thrive as a business, they needed to trademark a cocktail that they did not actually invent, then promote their product using cocktail, and ultimately cash in on the cocktail's popularity in order to sell their product. It may be legal, but personally, I think it's a rather unsavory strategy, and suggests that they have a product that can't stand up on its own.

      And I think the entire concept that they're trying to protect the integrity of the drink goes out the window when followed up with the fact that they're planning on distributing a "painkiller mix." Because THAT won't alter the flavor profile of the drink at all...

      1. re: ncyankee101

        I think that it is very interesting that Pusser's, who claim a trademark to the cocktail Painkiller, was guilty of tweeting not long ago that the Dark and Stormy, a cocktail invented and trademarked by Goslings, should be made with Pusser's. Hypocrisy at its best.

        1. re: JMF

          yeah, though I have tried to defend Pusser's in this whole affair, that is a little hard to reconcile. Especially the (now deleted) video on their site of someone - not sure if it is Mr Tobias - making one with Pussers.

          1. re: JMF

            appreciate your insight. oddly Pussers website is down. would love to see that dark and stormy bit, as that has been a good comparison. sounds like somebody dropped the ball and not just the place in NYC

            My opinion is, any establishment opening business would do a trademark search before naming their establishment. Had they used due diligence, red flags would have appeared before the sign makers paint was dry.

            BTW - Sopers Hole is featured in Conde Naste this month. Interesting that they never have and still don't use Pussers as rum of choice for the cocktail. If it is true, then why would they give rights to the name to a rum company.

            There is much to this story that has yet to be revealed.

            1. re: Bellachefa

              The Dark-n-Stormy video was from more than a year ago, before all this began - which in no way makes it any less hypocritical.

              None of this in any way makes me regret having a bottle of Pusser's here and at my girlfriend's house, and I am happy to see it now in Wake County ABC stores (whereas until now I had to go out of my way to Orange County). . I don't care nearly enough about some tiki bar in Ny to give up my favorite daily drinker of any liquor. Nothing at ~$20 a botttle even comes close IMO.

      2. trademarking somebody else's stuff has been going on for as long as there have been trademarks.

        This one at least sounds like it was fairly ethical.

        1. It was interesting and useful to read the Pusser's reply. Thanks nyyank. My take:

          1) It was a PR blunder for Pusser's to not get ahead of the story. Being away isn't a good excuse. That doesn't make them bad -- only amateurish.

          2) The marketing bonus that a brand gets from trademarking a drink (Goslings, Pusser's) may not exceed the negative reaction from both the trademark and actions needed to defend the mark.

          3) In the ideal world, Pusser's would have licensed the name to the bar for, say, $1/yr, and the bar would have agreed to make the drink according to the official recipe. It's unclear to me whether Pusser's had a problem with the name of the bar if the bar had complied with the recipe.

          4) I don't think the trademark on Painkiller was widely known. I will have to rename the version of the drink in Kindred Cocktails that is not made with Pusser's. (There is also one with Pusser's.)

          5) Would a prudent bar owner open "Dark 'n' Stormy", put the drink on the menu made with Smith & Cross, and not expect trouble?

          6) I suspect Donna Karan could make a claim that PKNY is diluting the value of their mark. I would not be surprised if they did. It seems a very foolish name to choose. The names are very similar from a spelling, phonetic, and graphic (P looks a lot like D) sense.

          I'm am a lay person.

 | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

          8 Replies
          1. re: EvergreenDan

            In response to:
            1) This whole things smacks of the lawyers running the show. A normal person (i.e. someone who is not an trademark attorney looking for a quick score) would have been honored by the fact that a bar named themselves after a drink in which their product is a key ingredient, and perhaps would have worked with the bar to capitalize on that. Sort of to your point 3.

            I mean, ncyank points out "No mention anywhere that they invented the drink, just that they trademarked it." But look at how that is explained: "Under the law, the fact that someone else that may have preceded her at the Soggy Dollar Bar, and may have made the drink with another rum, is of no legal consequence in regards to the legitimacy of our Painkiller Trademark." This is clearly language not from the heart of a quality rum producer, but text vetted through the legal department.

            1. re: Alcachofa

              As they company points out in its website, a court will ONLY uphold a trademark if the owner asserts his rights to it when a violation occurs. So whether it seems like lawyers are running the show, if Pusser's believes its trademark has value then it MUST take legal action to prevent others from using it. If the company did in fact contact the bar on 10 occasions then the bar assumed the risk of continuing the violation.

              You may not agree with how this happened but don't be so quick to pass judgment on the company.

              1. re: ferret

                I made a comment in a part of this thread that got deleted earlier - I still think the bar may have allowed this to happen, to gain publicity. For the cost of a new sign and website, they got more recognition (not to mention goodwill) than millions in advertising could have gotten them.

                1. re: ncyankee101

                  The bar was just written up in Esquire as one of the best new bars in America... under their old name, so that free publicity (worth even more, IMO) was messed up by the name change, so I kind of doubt it.

                  To ferret (and everyone), let us also remember a key point here, which should be emphasized. The bar did not name itself "Pusser's". It named itself after a drink which happens to be made with Pusser's sometimes. That's a HUGE difference, in terms of what value there is to protect and defend.

                  E-Dan: suggested rename for your drink--Painwafter.

                  1. re: Alcachofa

                    Pusser's owns the Painkiller trademark and therefore has the right and obligation to protect it. The bar is free to challenge the trademark but they aren't free to infringe.

                    1. re: ferret

                      BAR: some pass their exams, some don't, most of us just drink at 'em.

                        1. re: ferret

                          Trademarks are for specific categories. Now I may not have every bit of the following perfect, but from doing a quick trademark search. If you want to check this out, just do a trademark search yourself on the term "Painkiller", which by the way, is owned by quite a few companies, in different categories, like movies/entertainment, bicycles, and as an actual painkiller.

                          Pusser's original trademark back in 1988 was for "Pusser's Painkiller" a non-alcoholic cocktail mix. (They did this because they were going to bring out a cocktail mix, which they never did. Part of having a trademark is USING the trademark, again, which they never did. Anyone who wanted to could, and still can, put out a similar product, use the name "Painkiller" and if they actually went to court, whoever USED the name in a product that came to market first, would win.)

                          It was only a few years ago they trademarked the term "Pusser's Painkiller" as a cocktail made with Pusser's and juices and coconut juice/cream.

                          They trademarked the term "Painkiller" as a general cocktail very recently.

                          AND they only trademarked the term "Painkiller" as in a bar or restaurant, AFTER the bar Painkiller decided not to pursue the legal case.

              2. I had my first Painkiller while bareboating in the BVI in 1989. A Painkiller made with anything other then Pussers is not a Painkiller. Just as a Dark and Stormy made with Pussers is not a Dark and Stormy.

                The bar owners knew what they were doing when they cashed in on the name and it came back to bite them in the akahine. To start a campaign to boycott Pussers over this is sophmoric.

                7 Replies
                1. re: Bellachefa

                  <The bar owners knew what they were doing when they cashed in on the name...>

                  I very much doubt it. It's not like the owners named the bar Hendrick's Martini or Campari & Soda. Tiki bars are sprouting like weeds around here, and this one is named after a drink - one with a generic name, like Zombie or Pina Colada (those are on the menu as well). I certainly don't hear the word Painkiller and immediately think of Pusser's Rum. Maybe if the drink were called a Pusser's Painkiller. But it's not.

                  1. re: small h

                    well I imagine you haven't enjoyed Painkillers for over 30 years from the British Virgin Islands. A Painkiller without Pussers and freshly grated nutmeg, is not a Painkiller, but a riff on a mixed tropical drink. I'd like to know if this establishment made a proper Painkiller, before the litigation.

                    That's just my opinion based on familiarity with the drink and the rum on my first trip to Soper's Hole Tortola, BVI

                    1. re: Bellachefa

                      And that has next to nothing to do with the topic at hand, which is whether or not the bar previously known as Painkiller was trying to "cash in" or not - and I say not. I've been to Tortola, I've had Painkillers there made with Pusser's, and yeah, whatever. It's a drink.

                      1. re: Bellachefa

                        Actually, The Soggy Dollar doesn't use Pusser's, and never has, in the drink Painkiller, which they invented.

                        1. re: JMF

                          It's amusing to me that you say they "invented" the Painkiller like it was the wheel--it's a pina colada with a splash of orange juice and a garnish of nutmeg for crying out loud! Having been a frequent visitor to the BVI, I've enjoyed many a Painkiller, and agree with small h, yeah, whatever, it's a drink...

                          1. re: Marge

                            And completely different ratios - painkiller has 4:1 pineapple to cream of coconut, Pina colada has equal parts.

                            1. re: ncyankee101

                              Exactly, while some of the ingredients may be the same, it is a completely different drink.

                  2. Not quite sure what's going on here, but felt compelled to post that as a brand new Chowhounder whilst enjoying Pusser's on ice with a healthy squeeze of lime, stumbled onto this post. Still haven't exactly picked up on why my glass of rum is less tasty but am sure the cocktail enforcers know best.

                    PS discovered Pussers and Painkillers down in the BVI in the early 90s but never reckoned it scandalous. I like a lot of rums, and the smoky Pussers is good on occasion. Never figured them to be hell-bent on world advertising domination, though.