After deliberating the arguments and counter arguments for the last few weeks the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has decided to uphold the registration of the term ‘Radler’ by DB Breweries.
This is extremely disappointing for SOBA and represents a step backward for the New Zealand economy, setting as it does, a precedent that other manufacturers will be only too willing to follow.
“Imagine a firm registering the term ‘Muesli’ when used to describe cereal or ‘Jalapeno’ when used to describe hot sauce” said Greig McGill, SOBA’s secretary.
“If that happens, the market will end up tied up in legal knots and businesses will cease to have any confidence in the legal registration process, a process which is vital for ensuring the competitive nature of our country.
“Our stated position has always been that we do not think that any brewery should ‘own’ the name of a beer style.
“We are bitterly disappointed, but will continue to campaign for ‘Beer for all the right reasons’, supporting where we can the growing New Zealand craft brewing industry and our members who are its consumers”.
Radler is a term commonly used in Europe and elsewhere to describe a kind of lemonade shandy with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of around 1-2%.
Monteith’s Radler is made in New Zealand and has an ABV of 5%. The term Radler was trademarked by DB in 2003.
The fact that Radler was a registered trademark became apparent in 2008 when Green Man Brewery produced a Radler to style and was notified that it had unwittingly infringed DB’s trademark and was required to cease producing the beer or rename it. Green Man Brewery now produces a Radler-style beer which is called ‘Cyclist’.
SOBA decided to challenge the trademark, seeking to get it revoked, and was represented pro bono in the challenge by Ceri Wells of James & Wells Intellectual Property.
Press Officer, SOBA
Issued on behalf of The Society of Beer Advocates.
SOBA was formed in 2006 in order to increase awareness of and appreciation for flavourful crafted beers.