Octoberfest stump

A customer at an Octoberfest event in Evansville, Indiana, in October 2020 plays Hammer-Schlagen, a game in which several contestants try to hammer a nail into a stump.

A federal judge last week recognized Stillwater’s WRB Inc., as owner of the trademark on Hammer-Schlagen, a game of hammering nails into a stump.

Minnesota Chief Judge John Tunheim entered an injunction in the case, declaring that the trademark is valid and enforceable.

WRB filed suit after Schram Haus Brewery in Chaska last fall included Hammer-Schlagen as one of its Oktoberfest contests and didn’t change it after being notified.

“The matter has been settled,” said WRB CEO Jim Martin, “The big take away is that WRB and its predecessors are the source and origin of the Hammer-Schlagen brand of entertainment.”

Hammer-Schlagen was invented by Carl Schoene, who immigrated to St. Paul from Germany in 1957. Schoene’s parents, Karl and Elizabeth, founded the Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter Restaurant in Grant in 1966.

According to Martin, the game descended from a Bavarian good-luck tradition known as nagelbalken, which translates to “the nail bar.” Customers would hammer a nail into a piece of raw lumber to ward off a hangover.

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