A common theme in this space, and many others like it, is the law as a weapon as much as a shield. Laws exist in theory to protect us, sure, but we're all eventually indoctrinated into the idea that laws also exist to protect the more powerful against challenge or consequence. There's a reason that we see companies like Facebook and others unencumbered by any fear of repercussion or reprisal when they do as they wish in the face of the greater good, and that's because there's rarely much chance that they'll face any measure of accountability. When you become so big that you can impose your will and face little pushback from even the bodies meant to keep you in check, we're reminded that justice and access to it are real and serious problems for many.
Monster Energy might not rise to the level of a Facebook, but they're certainly big enough that they can throw their weight around, as they are now seeking to do with a small root beer company in the D.C. area. As the Washington Post reports, Monster Energy is seeking to cancel a trademark for Stephen Norberg and his Thunder Beast brand of root beer, which is worthy of patronage for its name alone. Monster Energy's claim in pressing its case is that the name Thunder Beast is too similar to its "Unleash the beast" slogan.
You might assume that Monster Energy is one of a breed of companies that seek to wield its legal resources against small companies and startups, pressing dubious claims in an attempt to clear the field entirely of anyone with vaguely similar, if unrelated marks, but that would be to underestimate Monster Energy. No, the drink maker has often set its sights on targets big and small, including Disney for its film "Monsters University" and the NBA's Toronto Raptors for a logo with similar claw marks to Monster's logo. There's enforcing your trademarks, and then there's going beyond the pale.
Those sorts of cases might be a legitimate battle between two well-heeled companies, but cases such as these often have a profound effect on the smaller businesses left to defend themselves against such pressure. Most have to settle or accede to whatever Monster's wishes for fear that a protracted legal fight would bankrupt them; Norberg in the Post piece describes how the case has affected his business and his life, although he seems set to take on Monster and the larger problem of trademark bullies. While we can applaud his courage against long odds, we should take a moment to consider why he has to have the fight in the first place.