The company that owns the trademark for the popular bar game Hammer-Schlagen has sued a Stillwater ax-throwing bar.
The lawsuit from WRB alleges The Lumberjack and its owner Sara Jesperson engaged in “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts of unfair competition" when it used the Hammer-Schlagen game without authorization.
WRB says The Lumberjack had a one-year license agreement to have Hammer-Schlagen at its facility, and when WRB sent the bar a renewal offer in December 2020 for the license that was set to expire on Feb. 2, the Lumberjack rejected it.
Then in June, WRB CEO Jim Martin observed people playing Hammer-Schlagen at The Lumberjack after hearing that the bar was offering the game earlier in the day.
"The patrons playing Hammer-Schlagen identified the game by name," the lawsuit states, adding that employees asked Martin to play the game by name. "It offered the service for $2 per game per person."
The lawsuit also says the Lumberjack has been offering Hammer-Schlagen since it reopened in 2021, and a virtual tour on its website shows two Hammer-Schlagen games.
Bring Me The News has reached out to The Lumberjack for comment.
This is the latest lawsuit WRB has filed against a Minnesota establishment for offering a Hammer-Schlagen game in violation of the company's trademark. In December 2020, WRB sued Schram Haus Brewery in Chaska, accusing it of counterfeiting the Hammer-Schlagen stump. They settled in March.
Related [March 15]: Hammer-Schlagen owners settle with brewery in stump trademark lawsuit
On Hammer-Schalgen's website, there is a prominent warning about the trademark the company has, noting the unauthorized use or reproduction of the game is prohibited.
Hammer-Schlagen bargoers are familiar with today has Germanic roots, Hammer-Schlagen's website says. Carl Schoene grew up playing a nail game with his friends in Germany where they'd take turns swinging an ax at a single nail the was pounded into something (old tire, a wall, the side of a tree), and the last one to finish had to do a dare of sorts.
When Schoene moved to St. Paul with his family in 1957, he modified the game to use a cross-peen hammer instead of an ax and each player was given their own nail, which was driven into the perimeter of a tree stump.
Schoene would challenge people to "Nagelspiel" at his family's restaurant, Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter, in an attempt to sell more beer, with the loser of the game bound to buy a round for the winners.
Schoene's father-in-law Mike Wlaschin took over the game in the 1980s, standardizing it and renaming it Hammer-Schlagen. He also changed the goal to be the first to pound in one's own nail, with each player getting one swing per turn before passing the hammer to the next player.
The brand started to expand and in 1999, WRB Inc. was formed and it got a trademark for the game. Since then, the nail driving competition has appeared at music festivals, fairs, bars and other events throughout the U.S.