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Campari loses trademark spat over Skyy

Aperol owner Campari Group has lost a legal battle against UK-based microbrewery Dark Sky over its Skyy vodka trademark.

The court ruled that Campari must pay Dark Sky Brewery £1,026 (US$1,307)

Italy’s Campari Group is one of the biggest drinks producers in the world and owns brands such as Espólon Tequila, Courvoisier, Aperol and Wild Turkey.

Dark Sky Brewery, meanwhile, is located in Middleton-in-Teesdale, Durham, England, and produces craft beer.

The brewery’s founder, Steve White, initially tried to trademark rights in June 2022 for the brewery’s goods and services related to beer. However in October of the same year, Campari contested that the name was too similar to that of its vodka, Skyy, and, as it sells the brand under ‘beers, wine and spirits’ at UK retailers, they fall under the same space and cause confusion.

In defence, White filed a counter-statement, claiming that the brands are different and are perceived differently by consumers.

Following the 18-month legal suit, the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has now ruled in favour of White and Dark Sky Brewery.

IPO registrar S Wilson said: “I have no evidence before me to suggest that the producers of these goods are likely to coincide, nor do I consider it likely. In licensed premises, spirits are typically displayed in bottles behind a bar, whilst beer would be on taps at the front of the bar or in fridges.

“In terms of nature, the applicant’s beer and brewery products overlap with the opponent’s vodka products to the extent that they are all alcoholic beverages. However, the production methods are different.

“In my view, they will be perceived as relating to different subcategories of alcoholic beverages.”

Overall, taking everything in account, Wilson found a “low degree of similarity” between the two products and that there is “no likelihood of direct confusion”.

“The word Sky itself is a common dictionary word which would be inherently distinctive to only an average degree. I do not consider there to be a likelihood of indirect confusion. The opposition is unsuccessful, and the application may proceed to registration.”

The court ruled that Campari must pay Dark Sky Brewery £1,026 (US$1,307) – covering White’s legal fees and time spent on the case.

Campari refused to provide a comment when asked by The Spirits Business. Dark Sky Brewery is yet to respond to a request for comment.

In its 2024 first-quarter sales report, Campari Group revealed Skyy has dropped by 11.4% after its comparison to higher sales (up by 20.8%) in the same period last year.

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