Red Bull Loses To Bullards, A Gin Maker, Over Trademark Opposition

Red Bull Loses To Bullards, A Gin Maker, Over Trademark Opposition

from the bull-shit dept

There must be something about being an energy drink company that turns you into a trademark bully turd sandwich. The stories about Monster Energy, for instance, are absolutely legendary and legion. Meanwhile, Red Bull, the other large player in the energy drink space, has far fewer chiding posts from us, but there are still a few.

Bullards is a distillery that makes a variety of drinks, and is most famous for its gin. A little over a year ago the company found its trademark application for its name being opposed in the UK by Red Bull. The energy drink maker argued that there would be public confusion due to the similarity of the names “Red Bull” and “Bullards”. You know… because the letters “bull” appear in both names, apparently. Bullards fought back, given that Red Bull’s argument is so painfully idiotic. Notably, none of the branding is similar between the two brands, nor do they play in the same marketplace. Still, Bullards had asked for the trademark to cover two categories that Red Bull wanted removed: energy drinks and events.

Fortunately, UKIPO has finally ruled on the opposition, finding entirely for Bullards and against Red Bull.

A hearing ruled Red Bull’s opposition to the trademark application failed. Allan James, senior hearing officer at the UK Intellectual Property Office, wrote as part of his decision: “Bullards is not in any way a logical brand extension of Red Bull.”

It’s also worth noting at this point that Bullards has been around since 1837 and, while the distillery hasn’t branded itself as “Bullards” that entire time, it was the original name and the name was revived for use starting in 2015. In other words, the public seemed entirely un-confused by the name for quite a while now, likely due to the literally almost two centuries history of the company.

Bullards’ Russell Evans did comment on the inclusion of energy drinks in the trademark application, basically stating that there aren’t any real plans for energy drinks at this time, but he fought for that and the events category on principle.

He said that Bullards did not want to make energy drinks, but Red Bull “also wanted us to not do soft drinks, which we do, and they also wanted us to stop doing events, which is ridiculous. My view was even though we don’t want to do energy drinks, I didn’t want to concede to them the fact that they had the right to do so and we didn’t,” he said. “It just begs the question as to why they think they can do things like this when all they did was start something that’s now been thrown out but it’s cost me £30,000 to defend.”

They can because that is how trademark bullying works and there aren’t nearly enough consequences in place to dissuade trademark bullies like Red Bull from behaving like this. That’s what needs to change.

Filed Under: trademark, ukipo

Companies: bullards, red bull

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