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Flying Dog Brewery Wins First Amendment Case
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Flying Dog Brewery

Summary: Flying Dog Brewery wins a freedom of speech case against Michigan, allowing them to sell their Belgian-style IPA beer, “Raging Bitch” in the state.

In November 2009, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission denied letting Flying Dog register their India pale ale “Raging Bitch”. The Commission cited the name of the beer as unacceptable, offensive, and sexist. This denial prohibited the right to sell and distribute the beer anywhere in the state. According to the Commission’s attorney, this is not the first beer to be rejected due to the word “bitch” on the label.


Flying Dog appealed the denial and lost. They then turned to the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, MI, claiming that the company’s First Amendment rights had been violated but lost again. Not giving up, they went to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. The U.S Supreme Court followed the ruling on a previous case, Sorrell v. IMS Health Inc., where speech cannot be regulated by the government.

Flying Dog claimed compensatory damages for the amount of two years of lost beer sales. The Commission decided to settle instead of going to trial. The attorney for Flying Dog, Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky in Alexandria, Virginia called the case a great win for an American company that wants to use a creative brand name.


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