A West Australian liquor wholesaler has found itself wrapped up in a legal stoush with one of the biggest corporations in the world after it started selling imported "Duff" beer – the iconic brand made popular by The Simpsons.
Fox, owned by News Corp, is notorious for protecting its intellectual property. In the 1990s it stopped a Lion Nathan brewery from selling its own line of Duff beer – the remaining merchandise are considered collectors' items.
Although many companies around the world have succeeded in selling different versions of the iconic branded beer, Fox has stamped down on West Australian company Allstates Liquor Wholesalers.
The company has said in an apology printed in The Australian today that it illegally imported a number of different products from Germany under the name of "Legendary Duff Beer".
"In 1996, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation was successful in stopping trade in unauthorised Duff Beer products in Federal Court of Australia proceedings based on misleading and deceptive conduct and passing off."
The brewery in question, owned by Lion Nathan, was forced to pull its product from the shelves. Some of this product has fetched up to several thousand dollars after the Federal Court order. Single cans have sold for more than $100.
"Allstates Liquor Wholesalers unreservedly apologises for infringing the rights of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and for any confusion caused to Australian consumers and traders," the company says.
The company was contacted this morning, but comment wasn't available prior to publication. It has reportedly been forced to destroy more than $2 million worth of Duff-branded product.
Although Fox has never actually granted an official license for creating and trading Duff beer, breweries in several countries have succeeded in selling different versions – including the German company Eschweger Klosterbraurei, which supplied Allstates.