Mary Berry’s Stout – Infringement of a Name Trademark
It is recognised that celebrity endorsement of a product can add real weight to how it’s received by the public, particularly where the product is in a competitive or crowded marketplace. Such was the case last week when, in California, a brewer chose to associate a new beer, called a pastry stout (owing to it being made with the kinds of ingredients you might usually associate with the familiar baked item), with a celebrity baker, without their endorsement!
Armistice Brewery, in Richmond California, intended to name its new stout: Mary Berry, after the iconic cook and former Great British Bake Off (GBBO) judge, and had even produced labels bearing her name and image.
‘Mary Berry’ and ‘Mary Berry’s’ are both registered European trademarks; the latter allowing for an introduction to books or other products, no doubt. As such the brewery’s actions amounted to immediate trademark infringement and, unlike in a passing-off action (where no registration of a mark has been secured), required nothing more than a cease and desist notification from the well-loved cook’s representatives, to halt the association between the two. As a result and somewhat ironically the brewery has, instead, decided to market its new beer as ‘Cease and Desistberry’ Pastry Stout!
Every business has one or multiple brands and it should always rest with the brand-owner to determine how its intellectual property rights should be used. A registered trademark will allow a more immediate and definite stop upon any use that may not have been authorised, rather than having to gather together the evidence required to support the requirements of a claim in passing off.
Brands have come so much more into the limelight, with the extensive availability of mobile access to brands and social media, that effective protection and understanding what intellectual property you own is now almost an essential element for businesses, large or small. With the introduction of our fixed-price trademark registration packages, these are even more accessible to businesses, including smaller or start-up brands. With Brexit looming, now is the time to be considering these arrangements and to audit your own IP assets, ensuring everything is in order and, where necessary, fully protected.