The trademarking stoush between a multinational brewery and a bunch of Kiwi beer enthusiasts over the use of the beer term “radler” is starting to froth.
DB Breweries, which is now wholly owned by Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries, last week signalled its intention to fight a legal application filed in May by the Society of Beer Advocates (Soba) to invalidate its trade-marking of radler, in what is shaping as a David and Goliath beer battle.
Soba’s strategy would be to establish that New Zealanders, particularly brewers, were aware of the generic nature of the term before that date.
“We may soon require the assistance of all brewers in New Zealand in our quest to show that DB are either malicious in registering a trademark they knew was a generic brewing term, or incompetent in not knowing it was, when every other brewer worth their salt did,” Mr McGill said.
“One outcome means they lose the trademark, the other means they lose huge amounts of credibility by being a brewer without a clue about beer.”
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In response to the frustrations expressed by the Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) Inc about DB Breweries trade marking and preventing others from using the generic term “radler” in relation to their beer, James & Wells Intellectual Property has offered SOBA Inc the services of its specialist intellectual property litigation group on a pro-bono basis to invalidate DB Breweries’ trade mark registration for RADLER.
SOBA campaigner Greig McGill says “We greatly appreciate James & Wells’ involvement. As a young organisation, we couldn’t have afforded to challenge this cynical misuse of trade mark law without their assistance. We look forward to justice and common sense prevailing, and the return of radler to a generic term defining a style of beer, as it should be.”
DB Breweries seems to have made a habit of trying to monopolise generic terms for beer styles and along with Radler, has also sought to register “Oud Bruin” and “Saison” with mixed success.