Whole load of bull?
Following a recent spate of similar cases, Red Bull is the latest big brand coming under fire for pursuing a smaller competitor over alleged claims of trade mark infringement.
In a case reminiscent of the recent dispute between the Swedish company Oatly and Cambridgeshire based Glebe Farm regarding the trade mark “OATLY” (as discussed here), Red Bull has been accused of similar strong arm tactics in its dispute with an artisanal gin maker called Bullards.
Bullards is a luxury gin brand based in Norwich which was founded in 1837 and has recently been the recipient of a Cease and Desist letter from Red Bull following its application to register the mark “BULLARDS” with the UK Intellectual Property Office.
Red Bull initially wrote to the distillery threatening to oppose their application unless they removed a number of goods and services from the specification, including energy drinks. The basis of their initial complaint was that “BULLARDS” is similar to the “RED BULL” trade mark and would cause confusion amongst consumers because of the inclusion of he word “BULL” over similar goods and services.
Bullards current owner has hit back, stating that they have been trading in this area long before Red Bull and have no intention of moving into the energy drink sector. Whilst cases are typically settled by way of a negotiated settlement, it appears they have every intention of taking this matter the full way.
This case goes to show the importance of adopting a clear strategy for managing (and policing) your trade mark portfolio. Here at Briffa, the team benefits from over 25 years’ experience in both bringing and defending trade mark oppositions in nearly every jurisdiction in the world and we are able to assist in all aspects of the process from initial filing to enforcement. If you need any further information in this regard please do feel free to get in touch with us via [email protected]
Written by Tom Synott, Associate