Radler Trademark and DB Boycott

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-Apr-2009 10:50

If you're a beer drinker you're possibly aware over the past few weeks of a saga involving the use of the word Radler on beer in New Zealand.

Radler is a term to describe a mix of lemonade and beer that originated in Germany. Here in NZ most people would know it by the term shandy.

Several years ago DB Breweries were granted a trademark to use the word Radler here in NZ under the Monteiths brand. IPONZ granted DB a trademark means that DB are the only entity who can legally use the word Radler on an alcoholic beverage in NZ.

Recently Green Man Brewery in Dunedin were lodged with legal papers from DB requesting that they stop using the word Radler on their "Radler" beer - a beer they had been making for several years that was a truely authentic Radler style, unlike DB's Monteiths Radler which was not true to the style.

There have been many people within the beer industry criticise DB for their actions and their protection of the word Radler. This campaign has been stepped up by a campaign launched yesterday by Rumbles Wine Merchants in Wellington encouraging retailers to refuse to stock DB branded products.

I know the guys from Green Man - their beer is fantastic and you can argue they have been picked on by a larger company, afterall their Radler was hardly direct competition for DB and both brands have co-existed for several years. Other Radler beers have also been imported and sold here in NZ in recent years.

On the other hand what DB have simply done what any large company does - requests trademarks for brands they own to stop them being ripped off. 

Blaming DB for trying to enforce something they are legally entitled to do is just stupid and not well thought out - if this situation was reversed and DB tried to launch a product called Radler and were stopped would people see this situation the same way?

The target here should be the Intellectual Property office who issued this trademark in the first place.

IPONZ issued this trademark to DB because the world "was not in common use in New Zealand" and from media reports that have appeared recently it appears they may have had advice suggesting that allowing this trademark was the wrong thing to do, but choose to ignore this advice and grant the TM.

If you're concerced about this issue then you should be taking some action. Boycotting DB won't do that - the small number of people here in NZ who do actually care about this issue and would follow such a boycott would do nothing to DB's bottom line.

A few thousand people contacting IPONZ and expressing their feelings, explaining that a TM should have never been issued and asking for this TM to be removed due to the word falling into general every day use is a far better way to target your anger.

DB being given the TM in the first place was stupid - this is the key issue.

You can send the IPONZ an email at info@iponz.govt.nz



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Comment by Paddy Sweeney, on 29-May-2009 14:03

The issue of the trademark being given in the first being stupid is an understatement. The better postulation is that DB's hierarchy, if they had a modicum of intelligence, and more than one punter has pondered that possibility, would know you cannot trademark real names such as lager or pilsner's one of the two beer moguls in NZ, Lion is dominating and DB by their very actions are clutching at straws. Lion must thank god for the CEO of DB every morning as he is the greatest asset they have right now for gaining market share. My take on the matter is the trademark office innocently stuffed up by not researching the name Radler sufficiently. As anyone who has registered trademarks will attest; it depends who processes your application as to the result you get. My final word: DB would have jumped for joy the day it was approved and known that it could lead to choppy seas. They now have an enormous PR opportunity where Goliath can apologise to the good folk at Green Man and give them a heads up to recommence with the name. On past form its 100 to one they won't further branding themselves in the minds of the drinking public for what they seem hell bent on becoming.


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Steve Biddle
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.


I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)
  -Polycom
  -Cisco
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  -Patton
  -Zyxel
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  -Audiocodes

*Telecommunications/Broadband
  -xDSL deployments
  -WiMAX
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*Structured cabling
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  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
   
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.


+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.


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