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Pacific Ale disputes rumble on

February 28, 2017
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‘Pacific Ale’ was back in court last week

AB InBev looks on solid footing to challenge any future usage of the word ‘Pacific’ by brewers, regardless of the outcome of trade mark battles between Stone & Wood and Thunder Road.

The two independents met in Melbourne last week as the Full Federal Court heard Stone & Wood’s appeal of the July 2016 ruling in favour of Thunder Road.

Led by the court’s most senior official, Chief Justice James Allsop, all three judges hearing the dispute are long-serving Federal Court appointees and together have significant expertise in the field of intellectual property.

The judges reserved their decision, which may still be months away. The appeal hearing was adjourned.

Pacific Radler

Trade mark dispute
Separately, the dispute is also being fought out in front of the Australian Trade Marks Office (ATMO), which approved Stone & Wood’s application to register Pacific Ale in May 2015.

Thunder Road has challenged the registration of this trade mark and the parties look set for a showdown before the ATMO later this year.

King of the Pacific
Meanwhile, AB InBev’s takeover of SABMiller appears to have given it greater control over future usage of ‘Pacific’ in Australia.

AB InBev owns the Mexican beer brand Pacifico, while its local subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries owns Pacific Beverages.

Pacifico

The latter is a trade mark CUB inherited from its previous joint venture with Coca-Cola Amatil and has since awakened as the parent brand of its new Pacific Radler products (pictured above right).

As such, if Thunder Road is fortunate enough to defeat Stone & Wood in both jurisdictions, the Brunswick East brewer may come up against a bigger hurdle.

It would likely be open to AB InBev – as owner of both Pacifico and Pacific Beverages – to challenge any future use of ‘Pacific’ by other brewers aside from Stone & Wood.

The Northern Rivers brewer was given consent on Pacific Ale by CUB, which seems to have retained its own rights to the name, hence the release of Wild Yak Pacific Ale last year.

It’s doubtful whether CUB would afford Thunder Road the same generosity, given the previous trade mark ructions between the companies.

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