Raise a Glass: Court Rules in Favor of Musician Ali Spagnola in Drinking Game Dispute | Pittsburgh City Paper

Raise a Glass: Court Rules in Favor of Musician Ali Spagnola in Drinking Game Dispute

Way back in 2010, we wrote about local musician, artist, and party facilitator Ali Spagnola, who had become embroiled in a legal battle over Power Hour, a drinking game in which participants drink a shot of beer every minute for an hour.

It wasn’t the game itself in question, but rather Spagnola’s right to use the name Power Hour for her album of 60 upbeat, one-minute booze-themed drink-a-long songs (think Liz Phair meets Andrew WK.) A man named Steve Roose had released and trademarked a Power Hour DVD in 2000 — essentially a video stop-watch which, through a series of burps and goofy dares, tells viewers when to drink — and claimed to own the rights to the name Power Hour. He issued Spagnola a cease-and-desist, which would require her to remove all Power Hour videos from her website, stop selling her CD, and put an end to her raucous bring-your-own-shot-glass live shows.

Spagnola decided to challenge Roose, launching a fundraising campaign to help pay for a lawyer, and — in the mean time — has made headlines on various tech news sites with her Shot Glass USB party pack, a plastic shot glass attached to a USB loaded with her album.

This morning, Spagnola released this video announcing that —three years and over $30,000 in legal fees later — it’s a win for Team Spagnola, and competitive drinkers everywhere. The court ruled that the term “Power Hour” is descriptive of the game, and therefor cannot be owned by anyone.

The decision is, of course, a huge relief for Spagnola. “When we first started, my lawyer predicted that high end it could get to $10,000," she tells CP. "I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know if I want to go through with this. But I couldn’t let [Roose] push me around.” When they passed the projected $10,000 mark, Spagnola knew there was no turning back. “You’re in this tunnel where you don’t see the end, but you know you’ve gone so far into the investment. I couldn’t give up.”

Now, as she says in the video, “It’s time for a victory lap.” She’s left her “safe career” to pursue music full time, and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the Power Hour Freedom Victory tour. A donation of just $1 gets you a download of the album, which Spagnola hopes will get listeners pumped enough to come out and party at one of her live shows.