Jump Ship: ‘taking action against BrewDog not an easy step’

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Big thing: Jump Ship founder explains why the brewery is taking on BrewDog
Big thing: Jump Ship founder explains why the brewery is taking on BrewDog

Related tags Beer Brewing

“Just because we are small doesn’t mean we don’t matter”, that is founder and managing director of alcohol-free beer brand Jump Ship Sonja Mitchell’s message to BrewDog.

Last week, Mitchell announced on social media Jump Ship would be taking the Scottish brewer and pub operator to court following concerns regarding its marketing campaign for new beer Shore Leave, launched with the tagline Jump Ship.

Mitchell explained Jump Ship uses the name Shore Leave for its series of summers beers and had bought out the first edition of its Shore Leave beer in July 2022 with a new addition introduced in May this year, and that BrewDog’s advertisement could “cause harm” to her business.

BrewDog registered the trademark for Shore Leave earlier this year and explained it was “unaware” of Jump Ship’s products before doing so, adding the firm had offered to work with the brewery.

Mitchell told The Morning Advertiser​: “Each year we bring out a new variant and it's all around the idea of stepping ashore at the start of summer, relaxing, and enjoying a new beer.

“We've put a lot of work into building our name and developing the beers and finding customers and I felt strongly that goodwill we've grown is something we should protect.

“It’s not an easy step for a business of our size, taking action against a much larger business is intimidating to say the least, but I wanted to take a stand.

“The basis of our claim is that BrewDog’s actions caused a risk of confusion amongst our stockists and drinkers, and this causes financial harm to our brand with two beers having the same name in in similar markets.”

Social media preview

After becoming aware of the campaign following the release of a preview on social media in July this year, Jump Ship “flagged the overlap” on social media and subsequently began legal action by sending a cease-and-desist letter to BrewDog, describing the firm’s response as “quite dismissive”.

Mitchell added: “I couldn't quite believe my eyes to begin with when I saw the mock up advert with the beer and the tagline.

“It was very alarming to me because we have a beer called Shore Leave and our businesses is Jump Ship.

“Initially I thought there wasn't much I could do because we didn't have the trademark, and BrewDog had registered it.

“But as I learned more about the process, I realised there are laws in place which could protect businesses like ours in this situation.

“The design of the beer can is protected by copyright, and we own goodwill in the name that we're entitled to protect through the courts.”

A spokesperson for BrewDog claimed the business was “surprised” and “disappointed” with the situation, stating Jump Ship had not taken the opportunity to challenge the trademark application.

The spokesperson said: “As the registered owner of the Shore Leave trademark in the UK, we are obviously surprised at this action, but also disappointed.

“Ms Mitchell might have challenged our trademark application months ago as is standard practice but chose not to.

“We’ve sought to settle this matter amicably and offered a range of fantastic collab ideas, which would have had a huge boost for the brewery.

“We even agreed not to use the phrase “Jump Ship” in our advertising as a gesture of goodwill.”

Building brand

Though Mitchell stated BrewDog’s initial response offering a “collaboration”, including stocking Jump Ship brews in its bars, was “vague”.

“We didn't see it as a substantive response to our claim. We want to put a greater distance between our brands, not do something which could bring them closer together and we'd effectively be giving up all that goodwill we believe we've built in the Shore Leave name”, she continued.

The BrewDog spokesperson added: “We’d much rather work with the industry than against it. We regret Ms Mitchell has decided to take this action instead of working collaboratively with us to help her business grow.”

Mitchell urged BrewDog to “be aware” of how its actions can “impact small businesses”.

She added: “We’ve requested an injunction for them to change the name of their beer. Just because we're small doesn't mean we don't matter.”

While the legal battle with BrewDog was a “big thing going on in the background”, the managing director stated Jump Ship would continue to “work hard” on building their brand in 2024.

She said: “We’ve got to move ahead with the business and respond to what happens next.

"We're going to work hard to continue building our brand and keep focused on finishing the brewery installation we've got underway at the moment and building on the great backing we've had from our investors this year through the crowdfund we did.”

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