Field Theory by Hadyn Green


It's not yours, but you can have it

The New Zealand internet's current outrage is focussed at the owner of a particular trademark. This trademark was awarded some years ago to a large company; let's say it's McDonald's (it's not). The trademark awarded to McDonald's was for one of their signature products that they sell a lot of, so much so they decided to trademark its name: Cheeseburger (this bit is made up too). Rival companies also make a cheeseburger-style product, but while McDonald's is allowing them to continue to do so, it must be under their own branding, and not referred to as a cheeseburger.

Ok fuck it, you get the idea.

DB trademarked the name Radler. The Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA, disclaimer: I am a member) put in an application to have the trademark revoked back in 2009. From DB's press release: "SOBA argued that ‘Radler’ is a generic term for a style of beer, something which DB has long rejected". German Wikipedia says different. Sadly the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) does not read German, and they have sided with DB.

Of course IPONZ was the body that first awarded the trademark, so they probably didn't want to admit they had made a mistake. Why had DB decided to trademark Radler in the first place?

“We didn’t do it to prevent competition or restrict consumers’ access to different types of beer products,” she says. “Our trade mark has never stopped shandy or lemon or lime flavoured beverages being made by local brewers under their own brand name. In fact, this is what one brewery is already doing.”

So feel free to call your radler-style beer anything you want, just don't call it "Radler". The Green Man brewery now have a beer called Cyclist, after they inadvertently started this battle by brewing a traditional Radler and being sent a cease and desist. That's when SOBA stepped in, and now they are crestfallen. While others have had their steel resolved.

I await with interest Graeme's take on this because I am the one with rage and he is the one with a law degree (I assume). In the meantime, DB boycott anyone? Oh and DB make Heineken, the official beer of the Rugby World Cup. Cry havoc, and let slip the drunks of war.

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