Invent your own brands, DB

September 6th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A drinkers’ society warns it faces bankruptcy if it loses its dispute with Breweries over a shandy-like lager which most of its members do not drink.

The Society of Beer Advocates (Soba), an organisation with about 500 members run by volunteers, has taken legal action against DB over the term “Radler”, which the brewing giant uses on a citrus-flavoured brand of Monteith’s.

DB has a trademark over Radler which Soba is attempting to have declared invalid, arguing that like pilsner or lager, the term is a generic name for a recognised style of beer over which no-one should have exclusive rights.

I agree with SOBA. It is a generic term.

A spokeswoman for DB said its application to trademark the term in 2003 was not contested.

DB does not claim to have come up with the term, acknowledging the German origins on its website, but bases its right to trademark it on the lack of public awareness of the origins, and the “considerable” investment in the brand.

My advice to DB is not to try and trademark generic terms, even if obscure. Go invent your own brandnames and trademark them.

Tags: , ,

25 Responses to “Invent your own brands, DB”

  1. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    DB needs to get it’s head in and act honourably, maybe a little economic action against them countrywide will help their morals and integrity radar get back on track?

    Problem of being a big fish in a little pond is that you get full of pride about yourself and can become a bully as a result.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. Pete George (23,565 comments) says:

    DB took action against a Dunedin brewer, Green Man, who decided not to contest it initially and changed the name of his beer to Cyclist (a translation from the Bavarian dialect radler). Green Man Brewery is a member of SODA so seems to have prompted this fight.

    Brewers join battle over right to radler

    This is nonsense from DB. I won’t buy their version on principal, and puts me off buying anything branded by them. I wonder if they have tried to trademark stout or pilsner or champagne or burgundy.

    Interestingly Lion Nathan in Australia has the carbon-neutral Barefoot Radler.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. projectman (224 comments) says:

    No one should be allowed to trademark generic names – or, more generally, names that are entrenched in the public domain – but think about what has been allowed with others e.g. “Yellow” (Pages), and also, I think, the colour purple (Cadburys).

    Radler is a rubbish beer. Has a worse one ever been produced? The best outcome is that no-one buys it and the issue will go away.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    That’s not a best outcome Projectman.
    The best outcome is that DB say oops, it won’t happen again and drop the lawsuits and apologise to it’s shareholders for the bad publicity , that was not necessary.
    It might help if a low level staffer or Ad agency hack gets binned too.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    I can’t see a facebook “Hands off Radler DB” on http://www.soba.org.nz/

    Should be something like that to raise awareness and show support numbers to DB.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Pete George (23,565 comments) says:

    “Radler is a rubbish beer.”

    Are you talking about the style generally or a particular brand? They can vary quite a lot. Good ones are a very refreshing summer drink, especially after a hot activity like bike riding.

    Wheat beer with a slice of lemon is also a good summer style.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    The “unawareness” argument used to be legitimate in the early years of patenting and trademarking but improved communications and travel has seriously eroded that principle even by the eighties.
    And the internet killed it dead.
    If I type Radler into Google I get 6,280,000 results. And here I am in “unaware” Kaiwaka.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. ben (2,380 comments) says:

    Good grief, why is SOBA signalling its weakness like this? I sure hope they are not part of the government guarantee, though it wouldn’t surprise me. Why wouldn’t DB move to settle for a paltry sum and be done with it.

    And why is SOBA taking this action? Does it really matter? Is it wrong that a society that bets the farm on such an unimportant question should go under?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    projectman – Cadbury trademarking purple packaging for Chocolate products is completely different from trying to claim ownership of a generic term for your product as your brand.

    DB’s Radler is nothing more or less than an RTD version of what pimply pom youths in XR3i’s used to call “Lager Top”.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Ben
    Principle is principle, clearly SOBA aren’t John key where everything is negotiable and for sale.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Pete George (23,565 comments) says:

    “DB’s Radler is nothing more or less than an RTD version ”

    The way they have done it, that’s probably a reasonable description. Proper Radlers can be very nice. DB’s stance probably also discourages real Radlers from being imported which is a shame.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    SOBA is dead right, and I want to boycott the offending DB product in protest.

    Unfortunately, in the summertime it is so perfect a Sunday afternoon drink, (don’t really care if it’s a “proper” Radler or not) it is impossible for me to contemplate such a protest.

    James Stephenson – I thought lager top was far more watered-down?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    The original version of Radler was OKish but then they relaunched it and it was pretty shit.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. iiq374 (262 comments) says:

    So I’m hoping everyone also thinks that Tabasco sauce should lose its trademark?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    From memory Mac’s produced a “Radler” way back when they were still independent, combing fruit juices with lager.

    Probably why DB trademarked it.

    If I’m correct strange though that they could.

    Hard though to see DB dropping their suit when it is in fact Soba that are bringing it, DB simply defending it and seeking costs.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. bearhunter (853 comments) says:

    @ Mike NZ: “The best outcome is that DB say oops, it won’t happen again and drop the lawsuits and apologise to it’s shareholders for the bad publicity , that was not necessary.
    It might help if a low level staffer or Ad agency hack gets binned too.”

    While I agree with your first point, why should a low-level staffer or ad agency worker get sacked? The decision to trademark Radler and defend the action in court was taken at a reasonably high level, so if DB were to drop its defence, then it’s only fair that the axe falls on those who came up with the idea in the first place.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. RightNow (6,994 comments) says:

    Monteiths Radler is a beer? Bugger, I thought it was a variant of lemonade. Guess I’d better find something else to mix with my vodka in future.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    RRM – Lager top = lager with splash of lemonade, lime cordial optional. Anything with more lemonade than that is a “shandy”.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. workingman (79 comments) says:

    RRM

    A lager top is at the most 20% lemonade, and will normally be only 1-2 cms in a pint glass, so far less. A Shandy is normally 1/3 lemondate and a Radler is 50/50 or 60/40

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. projectman (224 comments) says:

    “Radler is a rubbish beer.”

    I was talking specifically about the DB Radler – of course purely personal opinion.

    I agree there are other (very) good summer styles.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Errrmmm… surely DB must be aware that Lion market a radler?

    Ironically, it was called Barefoot Radler (and was a nice drop on a hot summer’s day after some exertion) but they lost a trademark case over the “Barefoot” part (to a US wine maker). The term “radler” didn’t even come into it.

    I would assume that Lion’s uncontested use of “radler” on the international market means the term is not able to be copyrighted or patented and SOBA should just tell them to piss off.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Clint Heine (1,571 comments) says:

    A pity the Germans didn’t just claim protected status for Radler like other countries do for their products. After all, DB is hardly what anybody in the civilised beer drinking world would call a good beer producer. Most NZ beers are just lagers with little taste designed to be drunk in bulk. I’d actually be suing DB that they claim to be making beer! :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    11q374 – Why? Tabasco is a brand name, not a generic category name. It’s just the leading brand, so gets conflated with the category. See also jandals, sellotape, hoover. In such cases, the company can lose their trademark if it actually becomes the usual generic term. It’s within their rights to resist though.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote