Welsh brewery changes name of beers after trademark battle with Hugo Boss

Swansea’s Boss Brewing was required to pay out almost £10,000, change the name of two of its beers and stop selling branded clothing following a trademark battle with designer fashion label Hugo Boss.

Image: Boss Brewing

As reported by Wales Online, Boss Brewing, which was founded in 2014, received a cease and desist letter from high-end fashion retailer Hugo Boss after applying to trademark its brand.

According to records published by the Intellectual Property Office, two Boss Brewing trademarks were taken out in October 2018 in a process which usually costs around £300.

However, the brewer was instead required to pay almost £10,000 in legal fees during a four-month battle.

Co-owner of the business, Sarah John, told Wales Online that Hugo Boss was “adamant they wanted to stop the name” from being trademarked. The company told John that it owned the Boss trademark in most of the world, but that it did not own rights to it in relation to alcohol.

A compromise was eventually reached, whereby Boss Brewing was required to change the name of two of its beers. Boss Black, a 5% ABV stout, has become Boss Brewing Black, and Boss Boss, a 7.4% ABV double IPA, is now Boss Bossy.

The brewer is also forbidden from selling its branded clothing, which include hats and t-shirts.

John added: “We’ve got pallet loads of Boss Black which we are going to have to go through and change the labels of, which will be of great expense and time for a small brewery.

“This has been a horrible experience, and so stressful. We have worked so hard to create all of this and what should have been a simple process ended up making us question whether everything was going to be OK going forward in the future and whether we were going to lose everything.

“At the moment we are investing in a new bottling line and that money wasted in legal fees could have been invested in new kit.

“I understand brand identity, you have to look after your brand. But I think it’s a bit unnecessary that this massive clothing company has gone after a small brewery.”

Boss Brewing opened its new brewery, which was 10 times larger than its first facility, in March 2018. It now employees 25 members of staff and offers contract brewing and packaging facilities in addition to making its own beers.

Headquartered in Germany, Hugo Boss has 420 retail stores around the world, and employs over 14,000 people.

the drinks business has contacted Hugo Boss for comment.

4 Responses to “Welsh brewery changes name of beers after trademark battle with Hugo Boss”

  1. Vinis Mercator says:

    Typical behaviour of an international mega-brand flexing their muscles just because they have the resources to do so. How could anyone be so dim as to confuse a small independent brewery with a fashion house?

  2. Nicholas Morgan says:

    I still don’t get what the comparisons were? Like just using the word Boss? Can there be more explaining added to the article please?

  3. Paul Mac says:

    Naiviety from the brewery. It’s concievable that Hugo Boss may at some point want to bring out a range of alcoholic products, so this may have been a factor in the decision. Also “Boss Black” is very close in name to “Boss Black Edition”…one of HB’s perfume/aftershave products. Potential there for confusion if the branding colours etc were similar.

  4. hugo boSS says:

    Why not buy Fred Perry or Lacoste instead if you want to look smart. Vote with your feet. Better still buy beer from Swansea with your money.

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