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Craft spirits boom drives trademark registration to record high

Published:  21 October, 2019

The booming UK craft spirits industry filed a record number of trademark registrations in the last year, according to research released today.

The number of new trademarks registered for spirits jumped 12% in the past year, with 2,482 filed in 2018 up from 2,210 in the previous 12 months, according to law firm RPC.

RPC said the number of new spirits brands and individual products were both rising as the major global drinks manufacturers continued to respond to the boom in craft spirits by launching innovative flavours and unusual colours.

The number of distillery businesses in the UK has increased 21% in just a year to 205 in 2018, up from 170 in 2017.

Flavoured gins enjoyed a record year in 2018, with a 751% increase in sales in the UK (WSTA 2018 Market Report).

The trend towards a proliferation of varieties has spread to other spirit types, such as rum, whisky and tequila, with each new sub-brand and product line creating the demand for trademark protection.

“The importance of establishing a distinctive brand identity in today’s highly competitive spirits market cannot be overstated,” said Ben Mark, IP Partner at RPC.

“Failure to adequately protect that intellectual property can result in brand value becoming diluted by rivals launching copycat products. Should that end in litigation, having trade marks in place is crucial.”

The spike in new craft spirit trademarks follows several recent disputes

including Glenfiddich, which lost a trademark dispute against Indian distillery, Glenfield, who it accused of copying its distinctive label and logo, while Redsmith distillery was forced to change the name of its Outlaw Navy strength gin after opposition from The Outlaw Rum Company in Scotland.

Last year, mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor had to withdraw a trademark application for his whiskey brand which conflicted with a trademark owned by the Carlow Brewing Company.