A Toronto-based brewery is in hot water with one of Canada’s most beloved bands.
The Tragically Hip has announced a lawsuit against Mill Street Brewery, alleging that the company produced and marketed a Hip-inspired beer called “100th Meridian” without the band’s permission.
“We tried to sort it out with Mill Street for months but were unsuccessful. They didn’t take us seriously and were frankly disrespectful,” the band wrote in a letter to fans.
“We have been around for a long time, and have always been able to work things like this out without a lawsuit. Unfortunately, not this time. We took this step to clear up any confusion once and for all.”
In the statement of claim filed to Ontario court Tuesday, The Hip allege the brewery misrepresented the band, used their likeness for profit and infringed on the band’s trademarks in creating and marketing the 100th Meridian beer.
The band’s 1992 album “Fully Completely” featured a song called “At the Hundredth Meridian.” The phrase has since become synonymous with the band and its late frontman Gord Downie and has appeared repeatedly on marketing materials for the group.
Mill Street started producing the 100th Meridian beer around April 2014, and according to the statement of claim, the brewery amped up promotion of the brew in 2016 around The Hip’s final tour following Downie’s terminal cancer diagnosis.
In the statement of claim, the band alleges the brewery capitalized on Canadians’ goodwill toward The Hip to profit and “ride their coattails of success.”
“The Tragically Hip has lost opportunities to leverage and benefit from its own reputation and goodwill because Mill Street knowingly or recklessly appropriated and leveraged the band’s hard-earned reputation for its own benefit, unlawfully and without Permission,” the document reads.
A subsidiary of Labatt, Mill Street operates several brewpubs across Canada as well as a central brewhouse in downtown Toronto. In an emailed statement to HuffPost Canada, Mill Street president and general manager Daryl Minor said the brewery was disappointed by the lawsuit.
“We have received the Statement of Claim filed on February 9, 2021. We are disappointed this step has been taken and are confident that the claim is without merit,” he said. “We do not intend to comment further on the matter while it is before the court.”
The band is seeking at least $500,000 in “punitive, aggravated and exemplary damages,” along with additional damages for copyright infringement. They also call for a court order that would force Mill Street to publicly state that it’s not associated with the band, and remove all social media posts associating the band with its products.
A statement of defence from Mill Street has not yet been made public.