Instagram user Jeff Plate, who is the co-founder of Asbury Park Brewing and an attorney, posted this on Instagram, claiming he developed Shore Tea back in 2020, brought it to Cape May Brewing in May of this year, and they turned it down. But not before he trademarked the name:
…as the COVID pandemic shutdowns impacted his then-owned business (Plate) refocused on his core brands while continuing to refine Shore Tea. “When the shutdowns hit, it was a tough time to innovate or launch new products. We really needed to circle the wagons and make sure our flagship beers stayed on the shelves,” said Plate in a press release.
A search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office does in fact verify a Live trademark filed by Plate for the “Shore Tea” name for use under “Alcoholic malt beverages, except beers” on May 17th, 2022.
Having trademarked Shore Tea, designed branding and packaging materials, and securing a website, Plate felt confident soliciting Cape May Brewing as a potential partner in launching the hard iced tea. Cape May agreed to receive confidential information in mid-May to open discussions. “I thought their company would be a good fit, and believing I was protected, I sent them all of the confidential information regarding the concept and branding for Shore Tea,” said Plate. Plate states that in late May, after reviewing the confidential concept and branding for Shore Tea, he was informed by email that Cape May would not be proceeding with his product. “I thanked them for their time and wished them good luck,” remarked Plate.
Do I think Cape May and Wawa stole the recipe and idea from Jeff Plate? Nope. It typically takes one to two months for the entire brew process start to finish, not to mention getting the other bullshit done like packaging, distribution, and marketing in order. So if they really stole the whole concept Cape May would’ve had to meet with Jeff, tell him no, and then immediately go to Wawa and get this concept designed, approved, and started in like a week. Do I think the Shore Tea name was probably stolen by Cape May? Most likely. Cape May has named hundreds of beers. I gotta imagine one of the first things you do is check the trademark office if you plan on releasing a giant collab with a brand like Wawa.
I know the real question on people’s mind is “how does this affect the Philly Hard Iced Tea rankings? –
My official statement:
It doesn’t. This is a taste competition not an ethics competition. Wawa Shore Tea’s name being stolen (allegedly) may hurt the reputability of the brand, but it will not have an effect on my tastebuds. Chick-fil-A might hate the month of June, but it doesn’t mean their sandwiches lose any flavor. Don’t feel guilty this summer choosing a Shore Tea over a Fishtown Iced Tea and definitely don’t feel bad choosing one over that swamp water Surfside.
UPDATE – Cape May has released a statement. Powerful use of the word groundless #ISlayForCapeMay:
— Cape May Brewing Co. (@CapeMayBrewCo) August 1, 2022