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."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.
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.