On the Liquid Death “Armless Palmer” controversy

As reported by many outlets, including this article on The Sports Room, the relatively well known canned water/drink brand Liquid Death was at the center of a controversy and legal dispute. The dispute centered around the name of one of their drinks, a hybrid of lemonade and iced tea, commonly known as an “Arnold Palmer” after the late legendary golfer of the same name. Liquid Death called their take on the drink an “Armless Palmer” in line with the other drink flavor names under their brand such as “Grim Leafer”, “Rest In Peach”, “Convicted Melon”, and “Berry It Alive”.

Well, turns out that the late golfer’s name for this combination is a licensed trademark, specifically licensed by Arizona Beverage Company, one of the companies competing against Liquid Death. Not surprisingly, neither Arizona nor those in charge of Arnold Palmer’s estate were very happy about seeing this parody/trademark infringement on the shelves of local stores. They threatened legal action to defend the trademark. Now I don’t fault them for this, as trademarks have to be legally defended or they risk being lost.

And then came Liquid Death’s response to the legal threat. Obviously, they are not going to discontinue the product entirely. No, Liquid Death just came up with a new name for it. Enter “Dead Billionaire”. A great way to keep the branding on theme, yet an ever-so-subtle middle finger at the competitors threatening legal action. Note that Liquid Death takes a bit of poetic license here, as according to the Wikipedia article about Arnold Palmer, his estate was worth only $875 million at the time of his death. Close enough, I say; his name as a beverage trademark has almost certainly brought in the difference since then.

I don’t usually drink tea-and-lemonade blend beverages, regardless of name, but I may well pick up one of these to see what it’s like.

(Full disclosure: within the last 12 months, I did do some merchandising work for Liquid Death. The reference photo above was not taken at the store where I did the merchandising.)

A nasty surprise in Surprise, Arizona

I had really hoped we as a society we had moved on beyond such flagrant racism as that presented in this story. Alas, it appears there are still places where it’s acceptable to discriminate in such a shameful fashion with relative impunity.

Takepart.com brings us this story from the too-aptly-named town of Surprise, Arizona. Jessie Thornton has been the subject of police harassment many times since he has moved into the area. The most recent one is a DUI arrest–all the more surprising because the Breathalyzer reading was a BAC of 0.000%. No, that is not a typo, Jessie blew a perfect zero. Yet the arresting officer refused to believe that Jessie’s red eyes were caused by anything else but alcohol intake, and booked him anyway.

Even after the blood test confirmed the perfect set of goose eggs on the Breathalyzer test, Jessie’s problems weren’t over. His car was impounded, and the Arizona MVD received notification of the DUI charge before it was droppped, triggering a notice to attend an alcohol awareness class.

Jessie has other ideas: he’s not only not taking the class, he is suing the city of Surprise for $500,000. I would like to believe he has a good chance of winning, but I’ve seen the “justice system” fail in weird and outrageous ways before.

This kind of flagrant racism is something I would have expected to come across in a newspaper archive from the 1950s or maybe in a novel or film set in the same time period, or a dystopian work of fiction set in the present time. Certainly, this is not something I expect to read about that’s happening in real life here in 2013. It’s simply inexcusable, especially coming from men and women sworn to uphold the law.