Beer trademarks have risen by 12% over the past year, from 1,331 in 2013 to 1,465 in 2014. A jump in the number of craft beers registered by supermarkets, which are keen to take a slice of soaring sales, is behind the rise, alongside with an increase in the number of independent brewers in the UK.
Jeremy Drew, head of retail at RPC said: “Within the supermarkets there has been a sharp growth in own brand craft beers, which are often white labelled products from independent brewers.
“As different retailers and brewers begin to bump up against each other more frequently the need to protect their intellectual property in this lucrative beverage market becomes more obvious.”
Senior associate Henry Priestly added: “As the craft beer market continues to grow there is more chance of similar brands clashing. It’s a matter of sheer numbers, with the number of new breweries on the rise and new beer names making disputes likely.”
The American craft beer market, which is a few years ahead of the UK, has already seen a number of trade mark spats between breweries and beers with similar names.
London based brewers Camden Town Brewery accused Norwich-based Redwell Brewery of ‘passing off’ its Hells Lager, forcing the smaller brewer to try and crowdfund to find £30,000 to cover legal costs.
Redwell defended itself by claiming that the term ‘helles’ or ‘hells’ has been used by over 35 different brewers worldwide, and dates back to the 19th century.