From Bass brewery holding the first ever UK trademark to the long running and infamous Budweiser and Budvar litigation, the drinks Industry has always been at the forefront of the brand protection and trademark markets.
Brand identity and protection form such an important part of the industry as so many purchases are based on impulse decisions at pubs, bars, restaurants and supermarkets across the country.
As larger breweries descend upon the craft beer scene, they may seek to claim exclusive rights to names (or variations of names) which traditionally have been associated with styles of beer rather individual brands.
Whether they are entitled to this protection will depend on the facts, but all too often these types of dispute are decided by money and resources rather than anything else. Defending such claims is often too expensive and risky for the vast majority of independent brewers to undertake.
Even in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court, costs of £40,000 are regularly awarded against the losing party. The only realistic option for a judge to review these cases would be to have the case heard in the small claims track, but this in turn prevents the Independent Brewer from recovering any costs they incur, leaving them out of pocket and potentially not better off.
There has been a dramatic boom in the number of beer trademarks in the UK according to law firm RPC, who warn disputes are likely as breweries battle to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.