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In-Bev Gets One Guy Making Charitable Juice Drinks To Change His Brand Name

from the seeds-of-discord dept

Just as Anheuser-Busch In-Bev dropped one silly trademark opposition, it has gotten back on its bully horse and rode into town to smack around someone even smaller doing something even less threatening to its brands. This go around, In-Bev stuck its nose into the trademark application of one guy in Belfast for a juice line built on a social platform for helping homeless charities to make the lives of the unfortunate a little better.

Colin Mackey (30) was forced to withdraw a trademark application for his social enterprise juice business John Appleseed's, after receiving a letter from a law firm representing the largest brewer in the world. It claimed the name was "sufficiently similar" to its alcoholic 'hard cider' brand Johnny Appleseed.
To be clear, Mackey's juice line doesn't have anything to do with alcohol. Like, at all. It's simply a small juice product, with some of the profits generated going to charities that help the homeless. Unlike the aforementioned trademark opposition, which concerned another brewery and chiefly raised the issue of actual customer confusion, Mackey's organization isn't even in the same marketplace. Interestingly, partially due to the explosion of craft breweries and small wineries, there has been some talk in IP circles over whether a firm distinction should be in place for similar marks being allowed in different kinds of alcohol, such as wine and beer, but Mackey doesn't even enter the conversation here because he makes juice. Not only is there no possible confusion here, there isn't any likely threat to In-Bev, which has Mackey pissed.
"I'm massively angry. You put so much work into something, and then this huge behemoth comes and does this," he said. "I couldn't believe it, and it seems this kind of thing happens a lot. There are people who have wasted tens of thousands on their business before this happens."

Despite explaining he was selling non-alcoholic juice as part of a small social enterprise, with profits being injected into helping homeless charities, AB InBev stood firm in its position.
Delightful. More so, actually, considering the letter In-Bev sent Mackey affirmed the giant alcohol maker's right to seek cash awards in court should Mackey not back down. Because of the threat, Mackey did indeed change the name and brand of his business. It's a shame he felt the need to in order to continue doing his good works. The folks over at In-Bev must be proud.


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  • identicon
    PRMan, 13 Mar 2015 @ 4:08pm

    Well...

    At least in this case they are both beverages, instead of like, a beverage and a plush toy....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2015 @ 4:31pm

    Too bad Trade Law doesn't have prior art...

    and there should be some comeuppance for taking Johnny Appleseed, who took the waste of others to provide food for the hungry, and locking it up as a commercial beverage brand in the first place. And then to prevent someone using the name along the lines of the progenitor of the whole thing....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 9:34pm

    Indeed, why is it that one can exclusively trademark names of people, living or dead, or even found in common folklore? I can see having a registration on particulars of the mark - design and such - but this is more idiotic than trademarking common existing words, phrases, concepts, and letters.

    Maybe I should make an application for 'Eberhard Anheuser Soap-Flavored Nutritional Shakes' and see where that goes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Mar 2015 @ 11:18pm

    Anheuser-Busch In-Bev: "Alcoholic beverage is a beverage. The fact that we don't sell Johnny Appleseed's anywhere in Ireland is neither here nor there."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 11:21pm

    Anheuser-Busch In-Bev: "Alcoholic beverage is a beverage. The fact that we don't sell Johnny Appleseed anywhere in Ireland is neither here nor there."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2015 @ 7:59am

    One more not to buy from

    One more company to actively choose not to purchase from

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Thrudd, 14 Mar 2015 @ 8:28am

    avoid buying from

    These guys will be a challenge since you will have to know all the brands they own. It's not like avoiding Sony where at least they plaster their name over everything like a toddler saying mine mine mine.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2015 @ 8:57am

    At least they didnt directly sue him...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DNY (profile), 14 Mar 2015 @ 9:54am

    Trademarking the name of a figure from history?

    The charity should have fought. It strikes me that In-Bev is on shaky ground trying to claim as a trademark the folkloric name of an historical figure. They can surely hold a trademark on Johnny Appleseed in a distinctive font or font-color combination, but the name itself?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Mar 2015 @ 11:02am

      Re: Trademarking the name of a figure from history?

      the problem for this charity is that they don't have the resources. the trade mark office shouldn't have granted it in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Mar 2015 @ 10:41am

    Sounds like the estate of the original Johnny Appleseed needs to take a swipe at AB. AB was sold to the highest bidder some time ago, to a Dutch concern I believe. We drink Yuengling now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TimK (profile), 14 Mar 2015 @ 12:52pm

    I get that he has to change the name b/c he can't afford to fight it, but he should fight back through his choice of a new name. Like perhaps "In-Bev can suck our apples"... juice.

    F-ing bullies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    New Mexico Mark, 15 Mar 2015 @ 4:16am

    Some things hurt more than others

    Even the idea of trademarking the name of an historic American Icon (internationally no less) is hugely offensive. In-Bev is a monster in more ways than one. It owns a surprising number of beverage companies.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AB_InBev_brands

    I'm not a regular beer drinker, and if I have a pint, I generally prefer craft microbreweries, but I'll take special pains to avoid Budweiser. Better, I'll encourage my more party-oriented friends to do so as well. Why Budweiser? Since In-Bev/Budweiser has spent around $450,000,000 on advertising for Budweiser alone, having people jump brands is disproportionately painful.

    Another idea... maybe someone with media skillz could make a (CGI) video of a Clydesdale stomping on a puppy. Include a link to this article at the end. Make it appealing through dark humor, and it might go viral.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan G Difino, 16 Mar 2015 @ 12:30am

    Just send me some of your juice!

    Couldn't they (assuming he has help) rename it something like, "John Applesowed" or maybe "Appleshrewd" or, and this is free mind you, "John Applefalls" avoiding this whole episode with lawyers and beer? Don't even get me started with lawyers and beer..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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