The craft beer boom has seen the number of new trade marks registered in the UK for beer brands rise by 20%, to a record high of 2,372 in 2017, up from 1,983 the previous year*, shows research from RPC, the City-headquartered law firm.
RPC says that the number of trade marks registered for beer has more than doubled since 2010, when only 1,072 trade marks for beer were registered.
Consumer demand for ‘limited edition’ and ‘small batch’ beers means that breweries are launching far more products lines, with their own trade marks. This is a radical change from the pre-craft beer model which saw brewers consolidate their products lines and promote just a few “global brands”.
BrewDog,for example,now lists 20 different beers on its website. Heineken, on the other hand, only advertises two beers in the UK under the Heineken brand.
Some of the major breweries are following the craft beer model of having a larger range of trademark protected products, not just by buying craft brands through M&A deals but launching more products under their own marque. For example, Diageo owned Guinness now produces a range of lagers and pale ales.
Supermarkets are also encouraging the trend by allowing more beer companies onto their shelves and selling their own craft beer products. For example, Marks & Spencer now stocks craft beer from UK microbrewers which it labels as its own products, such as Battersea Rye and British Clipper IPA.
Asda announced last year that it was to add 100 craft beers to its range, which now includesBrewDog andBAD Co.
The craft beer industry in the UK has followed the explosive growth of the sector in the US.
The market for beer trade marks is so active in the US that there are now boutique law firms focused on beer trade marks.