By: Cecilia Von Mann
After weeks of king cakes, beads, and parades, Lent has arrived. Unfortunately, this means that the Mardi Gras festivities have come to a close. However, the lawsuit filed between two local New Orleans businesses in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday is just getting started. For many, beer is an essential part of the celebration, and the two Bourbon Street businesses have entered a legal battle involving trademarks over the beverage. “Huge Ass Beers” has filed suit against its competitor, “Giant Ass Beer,” claiming an alleged trademark violation by using the term giant, a synonym for their trademarked word— huge.
If you take a stroll through the French Quarter, you would immediately notice signs advertising several drinks from Hand Grenades to Hurricanes to these Huge and Giant Ass Beers that Bourbon Street is littered with. Huge Ass Beers can be found at multiple locations on this infamous party street, including the Steak Pit, Prohibition, and Cornet. Giant Ass Beers are located at bars like Beerfest, Voodoo Vibe and Sing Sing and the strip club Stiletto’s
In addition to their multiple locations, Huge Ass Beers has also taken advertising their brand a step further by trademarking their name along with other marks, including the “Butt Cup,” a 45-oz. container of a curvy woman, and the “Huge Ass Bottle,” a 70-oz. a huge tower of beer, and the “Half Ass Beer,” a minuscule 16 oz. compared to the rest of the Huge Ass family. The company, Nicholas S. Karno #1 Inc., owns Huge Ass Beers and is run by Billie Karno, who claims the company’s simple and blunt marketing has made them “the most popular beers sold in the New Orleans French Quarter.”
Karno, an owner and landlord of many other businesses on Bourbon, filed suit against several bars and clubs on Bourbon run by Pamela Olano and Guy Olano Jr for advertising the Huge Ass Beers’ competitor, Giant Ass Beer. Karno believes that their rival, Giant Ass Beer, is infringing on their trademarks that helped them capture most of the market share. The suit not only alleges the infringement due to the use of the word giant but is also is seeking damages as well as a restraining order to stop the sale of Giant Ass Beer.
Karno’s attorneys also state that the Giant Ass Beer company was founded after a business relationship that went sour between the Olanos and Karno. Karno, who serves as the Olanos’ landlord for several of their businesses, and the Olanos are locked in a separate legal battle surrounding unfair business practices. As a result of these disagreements, Huge Ass Beer filed the suit against Giant Ass Beer only a few weeks before the undoubtedly most important week of sales for all bars on Bourbon. Furthermore, at least one of the bars named in the lawsuit stopped carrying the Giant Ass Beer line after the alleged trademark infringement.
Overall, this lawsuit is an interesting case surrounding trademarks, synonyms, personal drama, and, of course, beer. It remains to be solved, and with the personal ties that these competing owners have with one another, it seems that it will not be for a long time. So, sit back, relax, and watch the legal battle ensue all while enjoying a giant or huge (your call) ass beer.