Over the past several weeks, Ravinia has been involved in discussions regarding a possible collaboration and licensing arrangement with the principals at Ravinia Brewing Company. What had been a private business discussion has become public. Unfortunately, the launch of a negative public campaign and the spread of misinformation has forced us to respond.
Ravinia understands the origin and rich history of the name it shares with our surrounding neighborhood and is completely supportive of local businesses, such as Ravinia Coffee Station and Ravinia Plumbing, which serve that community. We would also welcome a brew pub and any number of restaurants to that neighborhood. We all benefit from a vital Ravinia Business District. But the situation with Ravinia Brewing is different from those other businesses.
It’s different because brand confusion has already been experienced with the brewery, something that has not occurred with other businesses using the Ravinia name. No one thinks we’re entering the plumbing business. Even media people have inquired if Ravinia was getting into the brewing business based on that company’s marketing. This new company currently is operating out of Chicago and selling its product far beyond the borders of the Ravinia neighborhood, in areas where the name “Ravinia” is understood to be Ravinia Festival. Complicating the issue, the Ravinia Brewing logo bears a strong resemblance to the Festival’s (an earlier version even depicted a violin), and the words “Brewing Company” appear in disproportionately tiny lettering.
The fact is that Ravinia does own valuable trademark rights to the names “Ravinia” and “Ravinia Festival,” rights that it feels compelled to protect. Failure to protect these rights could diminish Ravinia’s ability to protect them in the future.
The actions that Ravinia have taken are consistent with the protection of those rights.
In very friendly talks with one of the brewery’s partners, weeks ago, that included the possibilities of promotional opportunities and a corporate sponsorship, Ravinia staff stated the festival’s concerns and informed him that we would require a licensing agreement that would allow the brewery to continue to use this brand identity by recognizing the festival’s prior rights and affording us some controls on how the name was to be used. We have a reputation to protect. Although the first draft of the agreement did include a royalty schedule and a waiver for the first two years of the agreement, a subsequent conversation was held with the brewery in which we informed the owner that Ravinia was not interested in money, just the protection of our brand, and that we would waive all fees for the entirety of the licensing period. We volunteered our design staff, pro bono, to help the brewery create a less confusing logo. We encouraged him to counter our proposed agreement with terms he felt would be more manageable. Instead, we received a response from their counsel attorney completely dismissing Ravinia’s legal rights. While we were developing a response, a negative PR campaign was started against Ravinia.
Despite this campaign, Ravinia does want this new venture to succeed, and again invited the co-owner who has served as the liaison to the festival since January to a face-to-face meeting in the hopes of achieving an amicable arrangement.
Director of Communications of Ravinia Festival
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