Things roll on at Comb-overgate and, try as I might, I just can’t make them add up.
I finally received a direct response from CUB last night, though it was exactly the same response as was provided to The Shout yesterday, namely:
The key point is that the brand and brewery remain independently owned by Barry, and not us.
From our view we are providing the opportunity for a small craft brewery to expand its distribution and bring its beer to the national market – which we think is a good thing.
Second point first. This has never been raised as an issue. It is a classic spin doctor trick to try and change the “should we label it” question, which they don’t want to answer, into a “what, don’t you like small breweries being successful?” debate.
Media Relation 101 stuff there, well played sir!
My position is and has always been: The more breweries the better, so long as consumers are provided with the facts to decide between them.
Back to the first point. Do you notice how every time Barry Schadel and CUB refer to this issue, they refer to the “brewery” and the “brand” not the beer?
Ok, tinfoil hats on conspiracy theorists, here we go:
Until this beer was just launched in bottles, there seems to have been no “Byron Bay Pale Lager” brand. The initial media release refers to the ‘medal-winning’ Pale Lager, but:
- The BBBC website, which is hardly up to date, lists medals it won in 2010 for Byron Bay Blonde, Billy Goats Dark Lager, Broken Head Bitter and Byron Bay Premium Ale
- In the two years since no beer called Byron Pale Pale Lager has won a medal at the AIBA, though these beers have been entered: Billygoat Dark Lager, Byron Bay APA, Byron Bay Blonde, Byron Bay Premium, Byron Pale Ale, Byron Pilsener, Redbelly Ale
- There is no Trade Mark registered for Byron Bay Pale Lager that I can find, but BBBC has registered Trade Marks for Byron Bay Blonde Ale ; Byron Bay Premium Blonde ; Byron Bay Premium Blonde Ale ; Byron Bay Blonde ; Byron Bay Mid Strength Ale ; Byron Bay Light ; Byron Bay Light Ale ; Byron Bay Black and Byron Bay Black Ale
No mention of a Byron Bay Pale Lager, which kind of got me thinking…
Now, I am no lawyer but if I was the intellectual property lawyer for a large multinational brewery about to spend a lot of money providing “the opportunity for a small craft brewery to expand its distribution and bring its beer to the national market”, I would want to make sure that there was a clear agreement around the particular brand that I was helping them with. That way, if things went sour and the relationship broke down, my big international business client wouldn’t have to watch as the little brand that they invested their money into sailed off without them. I would say, “create a new brand”.
[Ok, breathe now…] And…
If I was a big brewing company and received this advice and wanted to protect my investment, I would change the name of one of Byron Bay Brewing Company’s other medal-winning beers to get around the problem caused by my not owning the brewery or the existing Byron Bay Brewing Company brands. I would also secure my investment in the brand by making sure that the small brewery couldn’t continue to use the newly created brand at the end of the licensing agreement.
Am I paranoid or what?! But when you don’t get complete answers to questions, your mind does tend to wander into its darker recesses.
I am sure CUB wouldn’t be that tricky in their use of language but, just to put my mind at ease, I have asked them:
- seeing you issued the media release, can you tell me exactly what medals you say Byron Bay Pale Lager has won?
- When you say, “The key point is that the brand and brewery remain independently owned”, which ‘brand’ do you mean? The Byron Bay Brewing Company brand or the Byron Bay Pale Lager brand.
Oh, and and a quick follow-up just in case Byron Bay Brewing Company does legally own the Pale Lager brand and have forgotten to register the Trade Mark:
- Does their ownership of the brand survive the end of the licensing agreement? If things don’t work out, do they get to keep using the Byron Bay Pale Lager brand?
I can’t help but these things are relevant here but then again, I have to go…I see barrels are appearing on the grassy knoll again.
No response so far, but I will follow up if I get a response, with a fulsome apology if my paranoia has gotten the best of me.