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UK spirits and liqueurs trademarks rise 12% in 2018

The number of trademarks registered for spirits and liqueurs in the UK increased by 12% to 2,482 in 2018, according to law firm RPC.

Conor McGregor withdrew a trademark application for Notorious Irish whiskey last year

The previous year saw 2,210 trademarks for spirits and liqueurs registered.

According to London-headquartered RPC, the number of new spirits brands and products are rising as global drinks producers “respond to the boom in craft spirits”. This is led by smaller producers that are launching innovative flavours.

The number of distillery businesses in the UK grew 21% to 205 in 2018, up from 170 in 2017.

RPC also said that large distillers are looking to capture new markets, citing the examples of Brown-Forman, which has attracted a “younger, female customer base” with its Jack Daniel’s Honey, and Gordon’s Gin with its pink line extension, which hit one million nine-litre cases in just over a year.

RPC’s head of food and drink, Ciara Cullen, said: “Consumer demand for new flavours and experiences has contributed to increased innovation and diversification of product lines – we are seeing all kinds of exciting new infusions.

“A lot of multinational distillers are now bringing out extra lines and limited runs of niche drinks, to compete with independents that have started to bite into their market share.”

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

“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 trademarks in place is crucial.”

RPC cited several high-profile examples of trademark cases in 2018, including Scotch brand Glenfiddich’s dispute with Indian distillery Glenfield, and professional fighter Conor McGregor’s withdrawal of a trademark for Notorious Irish whiskey after a conflict with the Carlow Brewing Company.

McGregor then launched his Irish whiskey under the name of Proper No. Twelve in September 2018.

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