Norwich brewery threatened by Red Bull14th August, 2013 by Rupert Millar
Energy drinks giant Red Bull has demanded a small Norwich brewery change its name because of a supposed “confusing similarity” between the names.
Redwell Brewing, which employs eight people in the Norfolk city, has received a letter from Red Bull’s brand enforcement manager, Hansjorg Jeserznik, asking that it withdraw its trademark application as the names are apparently too similar.
The letter stated that the name “comprises Red Bull’s earlier trademark ‘red’ as a whole, which is a prima facie for the similarity of signs.
“Moreover, all trademarks consist solely of English words and contain the common element ‘red’. The term ‘well’ is merely descriptive and therefore of no distinctive character at all.
“Furthermore the term ‘bull’ and the term ‘well’ share the same ending and just differ in two letters.
“The ending ‘ll’ is identical and therefore the terms Red Bull and Redwell are confusingly similar from a visual as well from a phonetical point of view.”
The letter added that the brewery’s name would “take unfair advantage of, dilute and tarnish” Red Bull’s trademarks and that if Redwell did not comply then the brand would take legal action.
The brewery’s co-founder Patrick Fisher told the drinks business: “We were shocked to say the least when it (the letter) came through.
“It came up when we tried to trademark the name which we wanted to do as we’ve put a lot of time and money into creating the image.”
He added that the brewery’s solicitors were currently trying to negotiate with Red Bull and bring them down from their current position.
“It’s a big cloud hanging over our heads,” he continued. “We have to get this settled by August or they can use their huge financial clout against us.
Founded last October and selling beer since April this year, Redwell Brewing is named after a street in Norwich. Two of the co-founders, Fisher and Amy Hancock, are also part owners of the Norwich Tap House where the beer is sold.
The beer is also sold in London and is being rolled out to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester. Currently it produces 5,000 pints a week although Fisher added that it hoped to up production to 7,000 pints a week by September.
The case is similar to that of small Welsh brewer Artisan, which was forced by Pepsico to change the name of one of its beers as it was apparently too close to the name of one of the drinks company’s own soft drinks.
The brewer, in that case, lost its appeal when the case went to court.