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UK spirits and liqueurs trademarks rise 41%

The number of trademarks registered for spirits and liqueurs in the UK increased by 41% to 2,210 in 2017, according to law firm RPC.

Bacardi lost a trademark battle over the term ‘Angel’s Envy’ earlier this year

The previous year saw 1,570 trademarks for spirits and liqueurs registered. In the last five years, the number of trademarks registered grew by 84%, up from 1,199 in 2013.

London-based law firm RPC attributes the rise to drinks companies and supermarkets launching ‘artisan’ spirits, including limited edition runs and flavoured line extensions.

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

“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 trademarks.”

RPC cited several high-profile examples of trademark cases, including BrewDog’s legal warning against a Birmingham pub over the name ‘Lone Wolf’ and Bacardi’s application to trademark ‘Angel’s Envy’, which was challenged by absinthe maker La Fée.

Ciara Cullen, partner at RPC, added: “As more businesses seek to establish and protect a strong brand identity amid a proliferation of launches of similar products, the chances of branding clashes and ‘copy cat’ claims is high.”

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