Brewdog admits "mistake that hurt" over trademark row

The owner of Scots brewery firm BrewDog has said the firm made a "mistake that hurt a lot" when it tried to fight a Birmingham bar which had the same name as one of its beers.

Brewdog owns the trademark to "punk" in relation to beer.

Writing on a blog on the firm's website today, founder James Watt said that he only fought trademarks if he thought another firm's actions would be detrimental to his business and added that in this instance of the Lone Wolf bar, he "did not believe that was the case".

But he defended the firm's actions in relation to a second trademark infringement over the use of the "punk" name, which he said had not related to a bar and was only in connection with attempts to register "Draft Punk" as a trademark for bars and for beer. BrewDog owns the “punk” trademark in relation to beer due to its Punk IPA brand and its "Equity for Punks" fundraising scheme.

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"If we did not object they could have registered Punk and sold it to AB-InBev the next day, and then we could have been driven out of business," he said.

"Any company, anywhere in the world, in always going to protect the trademark of its flagship product. If you do not protect your trademarks then you risk forfeiting them entirely. People criticising us for defending our trademark is like people criticising us for not letting someone walk into our offices and steal our computers."

Music promoter Tony Green had previously claimed that his attempts to open a bar in Leeds which he said was named in a tongue-in-cheek reference to French dance music act Daft Punk had been thwarted by BrewDog's legal team.

Watt added that he had reversed the decision to fight the Lone Wolf bar in Birmingham after he had found out that his legal department at the Ellon-based business had taken action.

"Almost all companies always look to enforce trademarks, whereas at BrewDog we should take the view to only enforce if something really detrimental to our business is happening," he said.

"And here, I do not think that was the case. As soon as I found out, I reversed the decision and offered to cover all of the costs of the bar. I also invited them up to Ellon to make their own gin with us. This is a mistake that hurt a lot; but like all mistakes, it made us better. This will not happen again."

He added: "All companies make mistakes, and we fixed this one quickly, openly and honestly."

BrewDog, which in December projected a turnover of £70 million, recently unveiled plans to build a hotel in honour of craft beer in the United States.