What a brew-ha-ha.

Portland wants to sue Pabst Brewing Company for using a “confusingly similar” version of the city’s trademark “Portland Oregon” sign to promote the beer giant’s inaugural music festival last year.

The city sent a cease and desist letter to the brewery, according to city council documents, and the blue-ribbon award winners “did not respond favorably.”

Instead of complying, city documents show, the brewing company “has continued to violate the City’s intellectual property.” Pabst already announced plans to hold another music festival in July 2015 at the Zidell Yards in the South Waterfront neighborhood.

The iconic “Portland Oregon” sign sits atop the historic White Stag building in Old Town Chinatown at the west end of the Burnside Bridge. It features a leaping stag at the top of an Oregon-shaped sign, with “Old Town” at the base.

Pabst’s version includes a leaping unicorn in lieu of the stag, and the festival dates rather than “Old Town.”

A display for Project Pabst inside a Fred Meyer store in Portland, Oregon. City officials called the Project Pabst logo a “knock off” of the city’s trademarked sign. 

Portland does have a process to officially license the sign, which until a few years ago said, “Made in Oregon.” Pabst followed the appropriate channels “but ultimately the parties were unable to reach agreement,” according to city documents.

City policy doesn’t allow the trademark to be used on events or services that aren’t for all ages, according to city documents.

Portland is seeking damages from Pabst, and may use outside legal help in addition to city attorneys to resolve the issue.

“At this time is impossible to determine how many hours of outside counsel time are needed,” city documents said, “but we anticipate it may be between 10 and 100 hours.”

The City Council will decide Wednesday whether to sue. Finance officials who’ve been following the Pabst case weren’t available Friday. Company officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

— Andrew Theen

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