"Beerman" Served a Cold Response from Tenth Circuit

Steve McKelvey
Adam Epstein

The case of Robert Donchez lends new meaning to the phrase “he’s such a character.?Donchez v. Coors Brewing Company, 392 F.3d 1211 (10th Cir. 2004). In 1999, Donchez, a Colorado resident and popular vendor at Colorado sporting events, sued Coors Brewing Company and its advertising agency, Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB), claiming that the defendants had stolen his persona. Donchez, also known as “Bob the Beerman,?maintained that the defendants had utilized, without authorization and without compensation, his arguably unique beer-vending “Beerman?character in a national advertising campaign. Though the United States District Court dismissed his claim, Beerman appealed. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit agreed with the lower court and ultimately held in late December 2004 that Donchez was not entitled to any judicial relief. The appeals court held that Donchez, through his “Bob the Beerman?character, did not have a legally protectable interest in the term “Beerman?itself.