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UK trademarks for spirits rise 41% in one year

Published:  31 July, 2018

The number of trademarks registered for spirits and liqueurs in the UK leapt 41% last year, City law firm RPC has revealed.

Big drinks brands and supermarkets expanding their product lines were partly behind the increase which saw 2,210 registered in 2017 – up from 1,570 the previous year.

Many were experimenting with flavours and botanicals or launching ‘limited runs’ of products, while more artisan gin distilleries have sprung up over the last few years with 39 opening last year in the UK alone, RPC said.

Over the last five years, the number of trademarks registered for spirits has risen 84%, up from 1,199 in 2013, it added.

The firm warned that more trademark disputes were likely and cited high-profile examples including Scottish craft beer company Brewdog issuing a legal warning against a Birmingham pub to prevent it sharing its name with BrewDog’s gin brand, LoneWolf – which has since been withdrawn – and drinks giant Bacardi’s application to trademark whiskey ‘Angel’s Envy’ which was refused after absinthe manufacturer La Fee - which has a product named ‘Envy’ - objected to it.

“Brands are rushing to register spirit trademarks as the industry goes through a period of rapid innovation,” Ben Mark, legal director at RPC said.

“Many drinks companies are adopting a strategy of launching multiple sub-brands and varieties of their drinks in order to meet consumer and retailers’ demands for “limited runs” and niche drinks. It is a big departure from 15 years ago when drinks companies would concentrate their marketing spend on just a few core brands and products. More products inevitably means more trade marks.”