Irn-Bru wins legal battle over rival English firm’s Scots-Bru

Irn-Bru won the case against the English firm Sun Mark, which aimed to release a drink called Scots-Bru. Picture: John Devlin
Irn-Bru won the case against the English firm Sun Mark, which aimed to release a drink called Scots-Bru. Picture: John Devlin
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Irn-Bru bosses have won a legal battle with a firm who tried to launch a rival drink called Scots-Bru.

AG Barr, the makers of ­Scotland’s other national drink, called in the lawyers after the cheeky bid by ­English company Sun Mark.

Sun Mark, a distribution firm run by Tory donor ­businessman Raminder Ranger, said they planned to launch a range of “fruit ­flavoured energy drinks” under the Scots-Bru name.

But AG Barr, which is based in Cumbernauld, ­Lanarkshire, accused Sun Mark of trying to “ride upon the coat tails” of its success.

It claimed the imitation product would be a threat to its business, which has sales of £120 million a year.

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Sun Mark disputed the claims and said Scots-Bru would be a different type of product from the soft drink.

They also bizarrely claimed that the average customer would not associate the word “Bru” with the drink but with the French word for daughter-in-law.

The matter came to a head at a hearing of the UK Intellectual Property Office, which rules on trademark disputes, after Sun Mark applied to register Scots-Bru as a brand name.

Trademark hearing ­officer George Salthouse ruled in favour of AG Barr after ­hearing evidence from both sides.

He said: “AG Barr has provided evidence of use of the trademark BRU. To my mind, this is sufficient for AG Barr to show that it has goodwill in the mark BRU and overcome the first hurdle.

“Conceptually, Sun Mark Limited contends that AG Barr’s mark will be seen as ­having the meaning of a daughter-in-law. I do not accept that.

“It is well documented that the average UK consumer lacks linguistic ability in ­foreign languages.

“The term ‘bru’ will not, I believe, be one which is ­recognised as being the French for ‘daughter in law’.

“It will be seen for what it is, a misspelling of the word ‘brew’ as in concoction/drink or ­bevvy.”

Sun Mark have also been ordered to pay AG Barr £2,900 after losing the case to cover their legal costs.

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