A frothy legal spat is pouring out between iconic local microbrewers Anchor Brewing Co. and Boston's patriotic macrobrewers at Sam Adams, the San Francisco Business Times reports today. The Boston Beer Co., Sam Adams' parent company, have filed suit against the local makers of your favorite Steam beer for allegedly violating a non-compete contract when they hired a former Sam Adams salesman to manage Anchor distributors in the North Bay. Although the career move was obviously a good one for the 26-year-old beer salesman, Sam Adams doesn't see it that way: they claim Anchor's hire is an attempt to steal the larger company's trade secrets. Anchor CEO Keith Greggor, meanwhile, laughed of the allegations of what he calls a nuisance suit with typical San Franciscan sarcasm:
"It's a joke to call him a senior executive," Greggor told the Business Times, "We've tortured the kid and we still can't find out what their secret plans are." Still, "receiving this heavy handed action from a company 20 times bigger than our own is intimidating," Greggor added, "but we remain undaunted."
Legally speaking, it seems the Massachusetts courts might have Sam Adams' back on this one — courts in that tiny, possibly insecure state tend to support non-compete contracts like this, whereas California's more friendly and fluid job markets mean the courts here usually laugh them off. Or as the BizTimes puts it: "If the Silicon Valley high-tech world worked like this, we’d be buying all our software and smart phones from India, Belarus or maybe Tasmania."
Here's hoping we don't have to buy our Anchor Christmas Ales from Mexico anytime soon.