Friday, December 3, 2010

Lion Nathan - a tale of trademarks and hypocrisy

Another week, another trademark dispute involving Lion Nathan.

As reported in Fairfax press, a small brewer has been served notice from the lawyers at Lion Nathan, which has taken exception to Mr Michael Harvey's use of the phrase "Tosser's Extra Dry". http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/no-dry-humour-in-tossers-tugofwar-20101127-18bjq.html

Not content with objecting to the "Extra Dry", Lion Nathan has also objected to the phrase "Tosser's". Do they wish to confirm an association with the phrase ? I gotta say, the more they object, the more apparent this association becomes......

As stated in the article, the objection to "Tosser's" could easily be seen as revenge. Or bullying tactics.

Lion Nathan has also had success in protecting its "New" trademark, with the Trade Mark Office agreeing that a new brewery could not register as "New South Brewing Company". Not content with registering a commonly used English language adjective, Lion Nathan apparently also has the power to prevent anyone else in the brewing industry using said adjective. http://www.theshout.com.au/2010/09/27/article/Out-with-the-New-Lion-Nathan-wins-Trade-Mark-Stoush/RZHKGPWFVI

But it hasn't all gone their way lately. In May, it was reported the American company E&J Gallo Winery had a win in this country's High Court, over Lion Nathan's use of the word "Barefoot" in its Radler product. A Lion Nathan spokesperson whinged stated that "We are disappointed by yesterday's High Court ruling, which represents a substantial change to Australian trade mark law,”   (thanks to The Shout for that quote: http://www.theshout.com.au/2010/05/21/article/Lion-Nathan-stripped-in-Barefoot-battle/QALOKRVYTK.html) .

Lion Nathan could easily have learnt from the May experience when dealing with Tosser's and New South. Perhaps a little bit of empathy.

Not bloody likely. As Tosser's and New South have experienced, Lion Nathan has returned to the trademark courts with a vengeance.

And for what gain ? Your humble correspondent practices a life-long boycott of McDonalds, due to that company's obnoxious behaviour over the years.  Could I live without James Squires and Knappstein Reserve Lager ? On a principle such as this, yes.

As an aside, I have emailed Lion Nathan objecting to their stance against Mr Harvey. I'll keep you posted of any developments.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post!

    It´s funny how domains are not seen as trademarks, but when there is a domain dispute, it´s ALWAYS about a trademark infringement.
    I know, domains are not trademarks, however it´s time that trademark lawyers take them seriously, and include them in their brand protection recommendations.

    ReplyDelete

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