Money on the table – Hype glassware economy blurs the lines between art, homage and intellectual property theft – Happy Beer Hunting


As this type of glassware became more popular, more and more designers saw money to be made.

“We have noticed a big increase in many small retailers who, as a hobby, design these super cool glasses and sell them,” says Lauren Ewing, account manager for Grandstand Glassware and Apparel. She says since Grandstand started printing color glassware a few years ago, the company has seen those orders drop from 600 in the first year to 3,200 last year. “We also have breweries starting to make cooler commemorative glasses at retail. “

It’s not clear if the Ewing brewery references all use pop culture characters, but at least some breweries do. They include The Answer Brewpub in Richmond, Va., Which posted this glass with the Nintendo character Yoshi above. the Richmond Times-Dispatch calls glasses so limited “almost as popular as the beer itself.”

“Glassware, you can do it at a really good MSRP for a pretty good profit for these customers,” says Ewing, referring to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

But Rex and Galiotto rebuff that claim, claiming that most individual glassware designers barely hit the break-even point of their designs.

Rex sells his glasses for $ 20 each, including shipping. He says the glasses cost him $ 5 each to print; packaging supplies and shipping to customers cost him $ 9 to $ 10 per glass; and Shopify, his ecommerce site provider, charges him $ 1 per transaction. He says he earns $ 3 or $ 4 per drink, if so. He typically orders 96 glasses of each model, as the printer forces him to order in multiples of 48. That adds up to a total profit of $ 288 to $ 384 for hours of design and shipping work. Designers who sell in larger quantities, of course, can make more money, but that potentially jeopardizes the ultra-exclusive, small-batch nature of these glasses.

“It’s not about the financial side, it’s about feeling the fulfillment or the satisfaction that I have made with a product and that I ship it,” Rex explains.

While this may be what personally motivates Rex, a corporate lawyer probably wouldn’t care – for them, he’s running a business that can infringe on the intellectual property of others, no matter how much or how little he earns. .

Galiotto adds that all the margins that exist for designers on paper disappear when you factor in the time it takes to create and ship eyewear. (He also says he donated some of his glassware sales to local COVID-19 relief efforts and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.) Galiotto has bigger plans for Fueled By Hops, hoping to make one. Beer community website that also produces events, a podcast, a blog and more, which is part of the reason why he strayed from pop culture references in his designs.

In his blog post 2020 announcing the move, however, Galiotto goes out of his way to say he doesn’t expect other designers to follow suit: “I don’t hit anyone in the industry who ‘walks the line’ with the IP theft. If this is what you think is best for your business, keep going by all means. I am certainly not mad at you and honestly I will continue to support you.

But John Szymankiewicz, a beer lawyer based in Raleigh, North Carolina, told the GBH podcast last year that intellectual property theft is not best for a small business. . Whether it’s a brewery printing a sports team logo on a label or a business selling a drink with Bart Simpson’s face on it, the small business is taking a legal risk.

“When you know you are openly using someone else’s brand, trade dress, or similitude or otherwise call them that is not yours, you must expect someone to be upset. about it, ”Szymankiewicz told the GBH podcast.

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