Leave it to beaver to get Austin bar into le­gal trou­ble

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - JOHN KELSO

there’s a beaver prob­lem in East Austin. The Long­branch Inn, a bar with live mu­sic at 1133 E. 11th St., has been told in a cease and de­sist let­ter that its beaver logo in­fringes on the Benny Beaver trade­mark used by Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity.

The let­ter “came in the mail here; at first I thought it was a joke,” said Jim Stock­bauer, who owns the bar with his busi­ness part­ner, Kevin Crutch­field.

The let­ter from the Col­le­giate Li­cens­ing Co. in At­lanta says the Long­branch’s car­toon beaver used on stick­ers and T-shirts and in ads “is con­fus­ingly sim­i­lar to the BENNY BEAVER de­sign trade­mark owned by the in­sti­tu­tion” — the in­sti­tu­tion be­ing Ore­gon State.

“You guys must be kid­ding?” Stock­bauer wrote back. “There is ev­ery con­ceiv­able beaver known to man that is a logo across the world. This is not your beaver and we never wanted to look any­thing like your

beaver.”

Col­le­giate Li­cens­ing saw the Long­branch’s beaver in an ad in the Austin Chron­i­cle. “They sit around look­ing for beaver all day long,” Crutch­field sur­mised. Hey, it’s a liv­ing.

Stock­bauer ad­mits his beaver is eerily sim­i­lar to Ore­gon State’s beaver. They’re both slap-hap­pily smil­ing beaver head shots, and both beavers have buck­teeth and wear sailor bean­ies.

The bar came by the beaver sym­bol about seven years ago.

“We were just sit­ting around hav­ing beers with this guy Billy Bishop; he’s this poster artist on the East Side,” Stock­bauer said. “We didn’t have any money for any kind of fancy ad­ver­tis­ing, so he just made this thing up for us, painted this thing for the back of our (band) stage. I for­got all about it un­til this lawyer kept pes­ter­ing.” He says he paid Bishop for the beaver art­work in free drinks.

“Uh, at the time I can’t even re­mem­ber what I was bas­ing it off of,” Bishop said of his beaver art­work. “I think I just Googled beavers.”

Stock­bauer says they don’t have the money to fight a law­suit. So he’s hold­ing a con­test for Aus­tinites to come up with a new logo for his bar. You can bring your en­tries to the Long­branch and drop them off. The win­ner gets a $100 bar tab.

“I think we’ll come up with some­thing good be­cause there’s lots of artsy types in Austin,” Stock­bauer said. So far he’s got­ten two en­tries — one with the cur­rent beaver logo re­done in black Grou­cho Marx glasses.

The logo isn’t the only beaver at the Long­branch. The bar has a stuffed beaver on top of the back bar up near the ceil­ing. Joe Se­bas­tian, an as­sis­tant man­ager, says there has been some dis­agree­ment over whether it’s re­ally a beaver, or “a muskrat with a (beaver) tail tacked on.”

“It does have web feet, so it must be a beaver,” Stock­bauer said. He says he got the crit­ter on eBay out of Nova Sco­tia for about $80. He dec­o­rated with taxi­der­mied an­i­mals be­cause it’s a cheap way to brighten up a bar.

“All these wives want to get this stuff out of the house,” he said.

He says he got a bob­cat for noth­ing from a guy he met in the Chuck E. Cheese’s park­ing lot on Ben White Boule­vard. “That was kind of cool,” he said.

So the Long­branch doesn’t have to worry about be­ing ha­rassed by lawyers over its dead an­i­mal decor, al­though it may get marched on by PETA.

John Kelso

Jim Stock­bauer, left, and Kevin Crutch­field keep a stuffed beaver for decor at their East Austin bar, the Long­branch Inn. They re­ceived a cease and de­sist let­ter say­ing their logo was too sim­i­lar to Ore­gon State Uni­ver­sity’s Benny Beaver mas­cot.

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