Yellow Belly beer to be discontinued despite hopes of resolution

Buxton Brewery in Derbyshire and Sweden’s Omnipollo have announced that their 11% imperial stout Yellow Belly will be discontinued, despite the current trademark holder, Batemans Brewery, stating it had “tried several times to negotiate a resolution”.

In an updated statement released on 6 December, Buxton Brewery and Omnipollo announced that they would cease production of their collaborative beer under the Yellow Belly name.

The so-called ‘anti-racist’ beer has been embroiled in a dispute after it was found that Lincolnshire brewery Batemans already held the trademark for ‘Yellow Belly’ beer. 

The two breweries said they respect Batemans’ right to defend its intellectual property, however they add that “some telephone conversations” took place between the two parties during the process – something that Batemans denies. Buxton and Omnipollo claim that the appointment of IP attorneys as well as the wording of Batemans’ letter to them represented “an emphatic and direct refusal to allow continued use of the name Yellow Belly” and “precluded the possibility of an amicable settlement”.

They added that with 22,000 breweries in the world, “producing a truly unique and distinct beer is becoming harder and harder to do. Naming, branding and marketing of beer is also becoming increasingly difficult”. They did state, however, that all breweries had the responsibility to respect each other’s intellectual property rights. Furthermore, they criticised the “rage-rating” that has appeared on beer rating sites relating to Batemans Brewery and have called on the parties involved to take down such reviews.

Meanwhile, Batemans has also released an updated statement in which it stressed that there had been a lack of communication between both sides.

Managing director Stuart Bateman wrote: “The most recent telephone conversation we had with Omnipollo regarding Yellow Belly was a couple of months ago. I was contacted by a very nice lady from Omnipollo with an enquiry about our registration of the Yellow Belly name. I explained to her that we did have a protected registration, however we were always open to discussions as to how the situation could be sorted out amicably.

“I handed the enquiry onto the people who deal with our brand names and we expected a response but were not contacted further. So, Omnipollo were contacted once more asking if they would like to discuss how the situation could be resolved. They responded saying they would, but nothing more was heard until our social media channels lit up on Thursday (last week).

“Since then we’ve been getting quite a bit of abuse for something we don’t really feel is our fault.

“It has been stated that they tried several times to negotiate a resolution, but myself, nor the people dealing with the branding issue have heard anything.

“Ironically, we very much feel we are on the same side of small independent craft brewers like Omnipollo and Buxton. We’ve got a track record of sharing beer names that we have registered, we’ve happily swapped brewing knowledge and advice with other brewing start-ups, we’ve even shared Batemans yeast with other brewers. It’s a shame no one got back to us, so this could be sorted out”.

Yellowbelly, or yeller belly, is a nickname for people born in Lincolnshire, though the origin of the term remains uncertain. Possible causes that have been cited include the uniforms of the old Lincolnshire Regiment, a species of frog or newt found on the Lincolnshire Fens and sheep grazing on mustard fields.

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