Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Sun., 11/1/09
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Where are those lawsuit-reform groups when you really need them? You know, such outfits as Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) that are always demanding new laws to stop people suing big corporations.

Why do they never stand up against the abuses of big corporations that sue small businesses, neighborhood groups, environmental organizations, and others?

Take Hansen Beverage, the billion-dollar California corporation that markets Monster energy drinks. Hansen's legal hounds are suing a tiny firm in Morrisville, Vermont, named Rock Art Brewery. Matt and Renee Nadeau own it and employ seven people to produce artisanal beers, including a popular one called the Vermonster. Hansen Beverage claims that this name infringes on the corporation's Monster trademark.

Never mind that the Vermonster is a beer and not an energy drink, and that we consumers are not so clueless, as Hansen's lawyers allege, that we might confuse the two brands--the beverage giant demands that the mom-and-pop company surrender the name.

The law is probably on the side of the Nadeaus--but corporate lawyers know that cases like these can go on for years at a cost that small businesses and nonprofit groups can't afford. So the corporations file suit to bully the victim into submission.

Rock Art Brewery calls this fight "Rock Art Brewery vs. Corporate America." To join the cause, go to www.rockartbrewery.com. Why hasn't CALA come to the aid of the Nadeaus? Did I mention that among their major corporate sponsors are Philip Morris and Anheuser Busch?

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Filed Under: Corporate greed