Bang Energy's CEO couldn't stop posting, and it may cost him $175M
Arbitrator said "Bang, Bang, buddy" + enjoy MURDER BOX responsibly and more!
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Longtime Fingers favorite Jack Owoc, the pseudoscientific meathead CEO of Bang Energy, came into 2022 fresh off a cameo in HBO’s How To with John Wilson, the launch of a hard seltzer line extension, and a year of gangbusters N/A sales to boot. But they/T.S. Eliot say April is the cruellest month, and the MAGA megadonor would likely agree, seeing as how earlier this week an arbitrator ruled that Vital Pharmaceuticals (Owoc’s holding company, aka VPX, which does not in fact produce pharmaceuticals) must pay Orange Bang and rival Monster Energy a whopping $175 million for infringing the former brand’s trademark, plus another $9 million in attorneys fees to both companies for good measure. Makes that $56 million Stone ruling against Molson Coors last week look like small potatoes, eh?
The heavily redacted 177-page decision turns on a few questions, but chief among them is whether the “Super-Creatine” that Bang advertises its beverages to contain is actually creatine, or just bullshit. (This, Fingers readers will recall, is the same chemical conundrum currently at issue in a separate lawsuit between Monster and Bang, in which the former has accused the latter of false advertising. VPX alleged in a 2020 countersuit that Monster had joined this legal battle in order to prime the pump for victory in the other one.) The context: Orange Bang sells beverage concentrates in grocery stores and other mass-market retail, and a 2010 settlement between the two brands dictated that Bang would only sell its energy drinks—theoretically differentiated by their creatine content—in specialty/fitness stores and vitamin sections of grocery stores.
Anyone who’s been into a supermarket in the past couple years knows Bang has since pushed into mainstream retail placements. And though the actual chemical properties of “Super-Creatine” compounds are blacked-out in the document, clearly the arbitrator was not impressed by Owoc’s bombastic quackery. Or his compulsive posting habits: the decision quotes repeatedly from the executive’s Instagram account, @bangenergy.ceo, where he extolled the various and sundry health benefits of the super-creatine compound. As a result, the energy juggernaut—which despite/due to being the beverage equivalent of a Tapout t-shirt, is third only to Red Bull and Monster in U.S. sales—is on the hook for gargantuan damages. I always figured Owoc’s inability to stop posting would cost him, but I didn’t realize it would be this soon, or this much. Yikes.
VPX vows to fight the ruling (not sure how; Monster is requesting a California court to enforce it, which is how this all came to light), and it has more than 175 million reasons to try. Potentially even worse than that cash penalty, the ruling decrees that VPX must forfeit 5% of all future Bang sales into perpetuity to its opponents in the suit unless it narrows its retail footprint to health-specialty stores and gyms, and ceases selling its liquid under the Bang name entirely in 12 states, including California, Texas, and New York—three of the most lucrative markets in the U.S. Whoa. Arbitrator said “Bang, Bang, buddy.”
📬 Good post alert
💀 Enjoy MURDER BOX responsibly
A craft brewery in Northern Virginia (NoVa, if you must, but you really mustn’t) has produced a specialty four-pack of beers named after notorious serial killers. It’s called MURDER BOX. Some people say that craft beer has lost its way and given over to the lowest-common-denominator impulses of online edgelords and bro-brained cornballs. Anyway, moving on.
🧾 The Settle-Up
Bonus: Kate Bernot (Good Beer Hunting, Craft Beer & Brewing) Jess Infante (Brewbound), and I discussing a lot of these headlines on our most recent Twitter Spaces session of Beer Byliners, which you can listen back to here!
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