Bar sued over game in which patrons whack nails into a stump


Throwing darts is fine. Flinging axes is simple enough. But if your bar game involves nailing a stump, things could get tricky.

A Minnesota bar has been accused of violating another company’s trademarks in allowing patrons to compete in driving nails.

According to the lawsuit, the Lumberjack, in Stillwater, had bought a one-year license for the trademarked game Hammer-Schlagen, in which competitors see who can drive a nail flush into a stump with the fewest strikes of a hammer.

When the year was up, the Lumberjack’s proprietors did not renew with the licensor, a company called WRB Inc.

Several months later, the suit says, WRB’s chief executive officer walked into the Lumberjack and saw four of his company’s “trade-dressed” stumps set up. Other patrons referred to the game as Hammer-Schlagen, as did employees when they solicited their visitor to buy a nail for $2 so he could play, he said.

The lawsuit alleges that the Lumberjack engaged in “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business acts of unfair competition” in violation of state statute through its unauthorized use of WRB’s trademark and trade dress.

In addition to defending its name and the appearance of the equipment — stump, hammer, stands — WRB claims trademark protection for slogans including “get hammered,” “get nailed,” “get bent” and “got wood?”

The Lumberjack’s owner, Sara Jesperson, said Thursday that she could not comment on pending litigation.

Hammer-Schlagen — “schlagen” meaning “hitting” — was invented by the son of German immigrant bar owners in Grant, Minnesota. In the 1980s, another family member standardized the game and its equipment and gave it the brand name. The resulting company, WRB, acquired federal trademark registration for its logo in 2000.

WRB last year filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that a taproom in Chaska had been using a counterfeit Hammer-Schlagen stump since 2019. The two parties settled the matter in March; the taproom is no longer allowed to use the game.