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A Dispute Brews in Austin Over 'Namaste' Beer Trademark

An Austin beer emporium may be forced to change the name of its line of brews.

First opened in 1986, South Austin’s Whip In has evolved from a convenience store into a “Dhabapub” offering Indian cuisine and 72 beers on tap. It’s also launched an in-house line of beers: Namaste Brewery.  But this week, Whip In announced it was being asked to surrender the Namaste name.

The cause? An email from Dogfish Head, a Delaware brewing company with a federal trademark for “Namaste” as it’s used in the beer world.

Whip In’s general manager Dipak Topiwala accused the owners of Dogfish Head of being “tone deaf to their cultural insensitivity.” In a post on Facebook, hecompared the situation to cultural imperialism.

Other online commentators also noted the irony of the situation. As one Facebook poster wrote, “I cannot imagine how anyone thinks it is ok to take an ancient word of massive spiritual and cultural significance and claim that they, exclusively, own it.” A long conversation is also unfolding on the Austin Reddit page regarding who’s in the wrong and who’s right.

Despite the heated discussion, Dogfish Head says they have not taken any legal action. In a blog post titled “Searching for a friendly solution,” the brewer writes “As many of you are probably aware, there is no point in having a trademark unless we actively defend it … and Dogfish does have a federal trademark for Namaste in the beer world, which covers both breweries and beer.” They add that they hope to resolve the matter “brewer-to-brewer.” 

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