UK: Cloudwater gives in in trademark battle with Heineken

Cloudwater Brew Co., a craft brewer which was founded in 2014 in Manchester, UK, is facing a trademark claim from Heineken over the name of its new non-alcoholic soda range that is made with ingredients from the brewing process such as hops and malt. The privately owned brewery launched this year a non-alcoholic soda under the name Good Call Soda, a name which was already used earlier in a marketing campaign of brewing giant Heineken for its Fosters beer brand.

“Earlier this week we received a letter from DLA Piper, representing Heineken’s interests in a phrase used chiefly from 2010-2013 (but once again just now) in marketing Foster’s with the slogan ‘Good Call’,” Paul Jones, co-founder and managing director of Cloudwatersaid in a statement on the company’s website.

“Though their trademark registration didn’t extend to non-beer or non-alcoholic drinks when we checked through UK trademark registrations in June 2019 (they’ve now filed to extend coverage to cover non-alcoholic drink classes), and though their efforts to extract legal fees and threaten billing us for losses without an evidence verge on the sort of heavy handed tactics that pitch macro values as quite distant from community-centric craft values, our intention is not to cause confusion in the market at all, nor occupy space that they may wish to occupy in the future (with ultra low, or alcohol free versions of Foster’s Radlers, should such products arise, for example),” the statement goes on.

“I’m sad to say, however, that at present we are pushing back a bill to the tune of thousands of pounds (for Heineken’s legal fees thus far, even though it seems unfathomable to imagine DLA Piper aren’t on a fixed fee retainer), and are being pushed to sign legal documents that leave us vulnerable to further fees, costs, and rather excessive obligations. We are trying to ensure as little disruption to our trade customers as possible, and gain agreement to sell through distributed stock as is,” Jones concludes.

Originally Cloudwater had chosen a different name for its non-alcoholic soda range to avoid confusion with its line of beers. “From minors to people avoiding alcohol for health or religious reasons, the risk of confusion on a retail shelf, in a bar fridge, or even online isn’t one we’re happy to take,” Jones told The Drinks Business. Nevertheless, after Heineken’s claim, the brewer has changed the name of the soft drinks label now to Cloudwater Soda.

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