"Do a piece" said Rabidbarfly Glyn Roberts. He's highlighting the spat between global drinks monolith Diageo and Lovibonds Brewery of Henley, over the use of the number 69. Seems Diageo think that drinkers will somehow be confused if they see Lovibonds 69 IPA, and think that in fact, they are consuming Diageo's VAT 69 'brand' Scotch whisky. I'd be inclined to credit people with more sense, but I guess Diageo's lawyers might be on their uppers - never hurts to 'earn' a fee. Or maybe they've gone a while without threatening a much smaller business with trip to court, or agreement to change their 'branding'.
Whatever, it seems that Diageo's shysters missed their deadline to file suit, so subject to any appeal, Lovibonds may be free to pursue their own business growth without spurious and spiteful harassment from some miserable corporation.
That isn't the case for tiny Welsh Artisan Brewing Co, though. They've been operating since 2008, brewing a range of German-style beers in a small premises in Cardiff. Simon Doherty, the Aussie who set the place up, decided to trademark his beers, and ran afoul of the regulation which lumps beer and soft drinks in the same category. The application roused the ire of PepsiCo, who own a brand of juices originally from the US, called Naked Juice. They've decided that 'Barenaked' is close enough to threaten their brand and objected to the application, even though Simon's beers are only available either from the brewery, or at a few outlets in Cardiff, while Naked Juice appears to be on sale in the UK (as of September '07) in places like Waitrose, Starbucks and Whole Foods.
Simon has tried to clarify his application relates to beer and merchandise, but Poppsy Co won''t back down. There's a very clear and cold analysis of the situation here, but really, to me it's nonsensical, and just another example of a giant corporation flexing its muscles to get its way. Poppsy Co probably spends more on one Superbowl ad than Artisan has probably spent in brewing beer since their launch. I don't know how much they put behind Naked in the UK - perhaps they think a bit of free publicity generated by their objecting wouldn't hurt. That sort of thing can backfire.
Don't Poppsy Co credit the consumer with any sense? There's no attempt to pass off Barenaked Beer as anything other than what it is. The beer isn't likely to be appearing in the same markets as Naked Juice anytime soon. And what about Twickenham Brewing's Naked Ladies beer? That name is much closer to the juices? And what about the estate of William Burroughs? Surely The Naked Lunch might mislead the reader over wholesome fruit juice? And then perhaps Diageo could make sure Sham 69 can't get back together again - old punks might get confused.
I remember in the 80's, the Comsat Angels getting the same treatment from another bunch of miserable bastards, who made them change their name in the US to the CS Angels, in case music lovers thought somehow their spiky new-wave stylee was anything to do with global telecommunications.
You know, sometimes there's the letter of the law (and neither of these cases has been before the beak yet, so perhaps common sense prevails anyway), and there's the moral high ground, and both of these bullied brewers occupy that right now. Who's for a boycott campaign? I'll bring the music - it'll be Waiting For A Miracle...