DB Breweries is in the process of cancelling the registration of its Saison trademark with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). The company has held the trademark since April 2002.
DB Breweries’ general manager marketing Clare Morgan says the decision to cancel the trademark was a logical one given the company hasn’t produced Saison for a considerable time.
“We haven’t brewed Monteith’s Saison for six years and we have no intention of re-launching it to the market as it no longer fits our current Monteith’s portfolio. The brand was very well received when it was first launched but we ceased production in 2003.”
Clare Morgan says the cancellation of the Saison trademark has no bearing on the company’s ‘Radler’ trademark.
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 a cynical, but widely predicted move designed to maximise the distance from May’s negative publicity, DB has waited until the very last day possible to defend its trademarking of ‘radler’, the name of a recognised beer style.
On Friday 10th July, the last day permissible, DB’s lawyers, Simpson Grierson, submitted a counterstatement to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ), registering the brewer’s intention to contest the Declaration of Invalidity filed by SOBA’s patent attorneys James & Wells Intellectual Property.
What happens now?
Read the full story here to find out.
“Who do this arrogant bastards think they are.” Is the comment from a bemused Paddy Sweeney at the Thirsty Bloke Bottle Shop in Victoria Street.
Often referred to as the original Good Bastard, Sweeney is referring to the German owned DB and their subsidiary Montieths and their registering the German beer style Radler and the subsequent fallout with the Green Man Brewery in Dunedin.
Beer boffins have enlisted some high-powered legal help to fight one of New Zealand’s brewing giants over a trade mark.
The Society of Beer Advocates (Soba) has filed a legal application to invalidate DB Breweries’ trade-marking of the beer term “radler”.
The move comes after a leading firm of patent attorneys, James & Wells Intellectual Property, waded into the brewing industry stoush, originally reported in the Waikato Times on April 4, by offering the services of its specialist intellectual property litigation group on a pro-bono basis.
Earlier this year DB Breweries forced the small entrepreneurial Green Man Brewery to stop using the generic term radler and re-label its bottles, because it had trade-marked the name in New Zealand in 2003.
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.
Wine lovers, ask yourself how you would feel if there was only one brand of sauvignon blanc allowed to be sold in New Zealand.
What if one winery was allowed to trademark a varietal name and, in so doing, prevent anyone else from using it?
You might think it’s unbelievable, but it’s precisely what’s happened in the case of a beer style. DB Breweries, producer of the Monteith’s range of beers, has been granted a trademark on the name Radler and is now preventing other brewers from using it.
A boutique Dunedin brewery is being forced to rename its Radler beer after being told DB breweries has exclusive rights to the name.
Overseas, radler is a generic term to describe a style of shandy, but in New Zealand DB has claimed copyright on the word.
As a result, some beer lovers are now calling for a boycott of the brewing giant.
There is some heated debate currently on the RealBeer.co.nz Forums regarding the trademarking of the beer style ‘Radler’ by Heineken/DB/Monteith’s in New Zealand.
Back Story Here by NBR
Should a company be allow to trademark a beer style?
Should you be allowed to trademark beer styles? i.e. Radler?
( online surveys)