BrewDog hits back at pub name debacle

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

BrewDog's James Watt: "We made a mistake here in how we acted."
BrewDog's James Watt: "We made a mistake here in how we acted."

Related tags: Lone wolf, Trademark

BrewDog pleads “please don’t steal our trademarks” in a blog post following the dispute over a Birmingham pub name that left the brewer and pub operator criticised by consumers.

The Scottish brewer blamed its lawyers after coming under fire for making the Lone Wolf, now the Wolf, at Constitution Hill in Snow Hill change its name by threatening legal action because it shared the name of BrewDog’s spirits brand Lone Wolf.

BrewDog co-founder James Watt has since issued a lengthy post on the brewer’s website regarding the name row, explaining the Scottish brewer’s stance.

Intellectual property: the result of creativity such as patents and copyright.

Co-owner of the Wolf Joshua McFadyen, who runs the site with his sister Sallie McFadyen, gave The Morning Advertiser ​his thoughts on the blog post.

He said: “We have had an email from BrewDog and our solicitors have responded.

“However, we haven’t had anything more official than that.”

Joshua explained the bar will remain ‘the Wolf’ and would not return to ‘Lone Wolf’, despite it being established as such in the area.

BrewDog's offer to cover the costs of the rebrand was "nice" because just starting out meant they were “quite strapped”, he added.

In his blog post Watt said BrewDog was “pretty relaxed” about its intellectual property, citing it had recently given away all of its beer recipes with DIY Dog.

He added: “No other brewery has ever taken such an open approach with its intellectual property. Ever.

“But our trademarks are still important – as they are for any independent company.

“Of course, we try to protect them from misuse by others if it will negatively affect our business because we have jobs to keep, Equity for Punks shareholders to protect and a mission to achieve.”

Intellectual property is no different 

The co-founder called protecting trademarks “looking after our business and our team".

He said the trademarks were owned just the same as its buildings, brewing equipment and dogs.

“If someone stole our dog or our bottling machine we would not be happy, intellectual property is no different,” Watt added.

Of the disagreement, he added: “In terms of the Lone Wolf in Birmingham, we paid for and trademarked Lone Wolf in 2015. The Lone Wolf bar in Birmingham opened in January 2017.

“Our wider team and legal partners, acting entirely in our best interests, informed them that we owned the name and they would have to stop using it.

“Just as we’d do if someone opened a bar called BrewDog. However, hands up, we made a mistake here in how we acted.

“Almost all companies always look to enforce trademarks, whereas at BrewDog, we should take the view to only enforce if something really detrimental to our business is happening.

“And here, I do not think that was the case. As soon as I found out, I reversed the decision and offered to cover all of the costs of the bar.

“I also invited them up to Ellon [the company’s brewery] to make their own gin with us. This is a mistake that hurt a lot; but like all mistakes, it made us better. This will not happen again.

“All companies make mistakes and we fixed this one quickly, openly and honestly.”

Please don't steal our trademarks or dogs

McFadyen said it was good BrewDog had now made a statement about the name, but he wished it hadn’t got to this stage.

He added: “The line is almost drawn under, so we are getting there.”

Watt also commented on reports that BrewDog threatened legal action to prevent a Leeds bar from using the term “punk” in its name.

He said: “The other party tried to register ‘Draft Punk’ as a trademark for bars and for beer but we own the ‘Punk’ trademark for beer, so naturally we objected as that is one of our trademarks.”

Watt concluded the post with: “Any company, anywhere in the world, is always going to protect the trademark of its flagship product.

“If you do not protect your trademarks then you risk forfeiting them entirely.

“People criticising us for defending our trademark is like people criticising us for not letting someone walk into our offices and steal our computers.

“We won’t apologise for protecting our flagship brands, our business and the livelihoods of our amazing employees who all work really hard to make our beers fantastic and our business what it is.

“Just because we are a living wage employer, just because we share our profits with our teams, just because we are part owned by our Equity Punk community does not mean we should not protect our trademarks. Every company does.

“So please don’t steal our trademarks. Or our dogs.

“Love BrewDog xxxxx.”

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