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BrewDog faces legal action over beer name dispute

An Edinburgh-based start-up has launched legal proceedings against beer giant BrewDog over a dispute concerning the name of one of its products.

BrewDog faces legal action over beer name dispute
Jump Ship Brewing MD Sonja Mitchell

Jump Ship Brewing, an alcohol-free beer start-up based in Leith, is suing BrewDog over claims that the multinational brewer could cause “confusion” and “harm” to its brand.

Sonja Mitchell, Jump Ship Brewing’s managing director, launched the business in December 2019. The brewer offers five non-alcoholic beers, including its Shore Leave sour which first launched in July 2022.

In July 2023, Mitchell learned about BrewDog’s latest beer, which shares the name Shore Leave, after its proposed marketing was shared using the tagline “It’s time to Jump Ship”. By this time the beer giant had already registered a trademark for the name.

According to Mitchell, Jump Ship Brewing’s initial move was to send BrewDog a formal letter, and the start-up was offered a collaboration with the brewer in response.

However, the alcohol-free start-up declined this offer. In a post shared to her LinkedIn page, Mitchell wrote: “Their offer was vague and we did not see it as a substantive response to our claim. Effectively we would be giving up all the goodwill we believe we have built in the Shore Leave name. We want to maintain a clear distance between our brands, and argue that a collaboration would only increase confusion.”

BrewDog has continued to promote its Shore Leave beer. Jump Ship Brewing is now seeking legal action against the corporation.

Mitchell wrote: “The basis of our claim is that BrewDog’s actions cause a risk of confusion amongst our stockists and drinkers and this causes financial harm to our brand.”

A spokesperson for BrewDog said the company was “surprised” by the legal action, and noted that Mitchell had the opportunity to challenge the trademark application “months ago”. Mitchell claims she was unaware of the trademark application until after it was accepted in June.

The BrewDog spokesperson said: “As the registered owner of the Shore Leave trademark in the UK, we are obviously surprised at this action, but also disappointed. Ms Mitchell might have challenged our trademark application months ago as is standard practice but chose not to.

“We’ve sought to settle this matter amicably and offered a range of fantastic collab ideas which would have had a huge boost for Ms Mitchell’s brewery. We even agreed not to use the phrase ‘Jump Ship’ in our advertising as a gesture of goodwill. We’d much rather work with the industry than against it.

“We regret Ms Mitchell has decided to take this action instead of working collaboratively with us to help her business grow.”

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