the tragically hip

The Tragically Hip is suing a Toronto brewery over the name of their beer

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but apparently that isn't always the case. 

Beloved Canadian band The Tragically Hip is suing Toronto's Mill Street Brewery over their beer 100th Meridian, which also just so happens to be the name of one of the band's most popular songs. 

In a statement of claim filed in federal court Tuesday, the band asks the brewery to immediately halt sales of all products with this name. 

The Tragically Hip's song At the Hundredth Meridian was released on their 1992 album Fully Completely and has since become one of their most famous tunes, while the claim states that Mill Street started selling its beer with the same name in April of 2014. 

The claim says the brewery linked the beer to the band without permission in an effort to capitalize on its well-known name in Canada, while also connecting it to late lead singer Gordon Downie's farewell tour.

"The defendant, Mill Street Brewery, has branded and marketed its '100th Meridian' Amber Lager ('100th Meridian') to pass off on the fame, goodwill and reputation of the plaintiff, The Tragically Hip," the claim reads. 

"Mill Street has engaged in a course of conduct to, unilaterally and without permission, ride on the coat tails of one of the most beloved bands in Canadian music history by marketing its beer with reference to The Tragically Hip and one of its many quintessentially Canadian chart-topping tracks, 'At the Hundredth Meridian,'" it continues. 

"Mill Street deliberately amplified those efforts during The Tragically Hip's final and nationally celebrated tour, which was precipitated by the announcement that the band's iconic frontman, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer."

According to the document, Mill Street was acquired by Labatt Brewing Company, a subsidiary of Belgian multinational drink and brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, in 2015.

The claim states that Mill Street has "unlawfully created, fostered and failed to correct" confusion in the public surrounding the name of the beer and its connection to the band, and that the brewery has infringed on its copyright and trademark. 

"Mill Street has passed off on The Tragically Hip's valuable reputation and goodwill in the TTH Trademarks," the claim states.

"Mill Street has drawn public attention to its wares, services, and business by unlawfully misrepresenting that a business connection exists between its 100th Meridian and The Tragically Hip in a manner that causes (or is likely to cause) confusion, and that has caused actual or potential damage to The Tragically Hip, contrary to section 7(b) of the Trademarks Act."

According to the statement of claim, The Tragically Hip confronted the brewery regarding the issue and tried to resolve it directly, but Mill Street Brewery claimed the name of the beer referred to the geographical place of origin of the beer's ingredients and not to The Tragically Hip's song — though the band disputes this claim.

Mill Street Brewery's website meanwhile describes the beer as an award-winning "organic beer brewed with ingredients from west of the 100th Meridian."

The claim also includes screenshots of several social media posts in which the brewery appeared to advertise this particular beer by referring to The Tragically Hip.

The statements made in the claim have yet to be argued in court, and there is currently no word on a statement of defence from the brewery.

Lead photo by

 David Bastedo

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