The number of beer names trademarked in the UK hit a record high in 2018, jumping 6% to 2,519, up from 2,372 in 2017, according to London law firm RPC.
The craft beer boom has triggered major breweries to launch their own range of craft-style beers often needing their own set of trademarks.
RPC adds that the rise in beer trademarks is being further driven by the demand for low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer, which has resulted in a proliferation of new beer brands.
This demand is partly driven by younger consumers who are looking to cut back on their alcohol intake for health purposes.
According to Nielsen, UK sales of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits reached a record high of £57 million last year, an increase of 39%.
Registered trademarks for beer have almost doubled in the last five years, rising 89% from 1,331 in 2013.
“Relentless demand for new niche beer products and flavours is driving the number of beer trademark registrations to record highs,” said Ben Mark, IP partner at RPC. “The industry used to focus on consistency of product, now the focus is on variety.”
“Established players have learnt from the success of new entrants to the craft beer market and realised they can’t just offer consumers one product or one brand.”
BrewDog now has more than 130 trademarks registered in the UK, while Heineken, AB InBev and Marstons have launched new beers in recent months.
RPC added that as the number of beer trademarks continues to grow, so too does the likelihood of more legal battles over trademarks taking place.
RPC’s head of food and drink, Ciara Cullen, said: “It’s clear that everyone from the largest distilleries to the smallest craft breweries are keen to break into the no/low-alcohol space. In order to successfully do so, it won’t be enough to have a quality product at the right price point, you will need to develop a brand that really resonates with your target consumer and gives you the edge on the competition.”
“Properly protecting and enforcing your IP not only generates value in your brand but helps you achieve longevity in a highly competitive market.”
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