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.”
See Forum Comments
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.
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.
The Society of Beer Advocates is pleased to announce that entries are now open for the SOBA National Homebrew Championship proudly sponsored by Mac’s All Malt Brewing and Brewcraft.
Entries close on Friday 30th November 2007. Entry forms will be available at your local homebrew store or can be downloaded from www.soba.org.nz/competition.
There are some great prizes from Mac’s and Brewcraft to be won. Prizes for each BJCP category as well as Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for best kit beers and best full grain beers.
The winner of the Supreme Champion Beer will be invited to a brew day to brew their award winning beer at Hallertau BrewBar.
SOBA would like to thank Brewers Coop, NZ Hops and Hallertau BrewBar for their support.