Posted on Monday 28 August 2017 by Cruickshank Intellectual Property
Irish craft beer is having a moment. Even Guinness and Heineken have found themselves ‘hopping’ onto the bandwagon. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. Arising from the Brewers Project, Guinness launched Hop House 13 in 2015 and have witnessed successful growth since coming on the market. With sales for Guinness itself having slowed since last year, Hop House 13 has in the last 12 months (ending June 2017) experienced net sales growth of up to 31%. Its success is just part of the increasing boom we are witnessing in the Craft Beer Industry, and it has steadily become a sector which has seen enormous growth and continued rise in popularity over the last number of years.
Expected Continued Growth.
In a Report conducted for the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland and Bord Bia, it found that by last year, 90 microbreweries were in full operation around the country with 62 of these as production microbreweries and the other 28 as contracting companies. With sales of €59million in 2016, and higher expected for 2017, it is certain that this industry will continue to grow from strength to strength. With this continued rise in the industry also comes an increase in competition. As more people turn their attention to carving out a successful business in the industry it also leads to the potential of a crowded marketplace, with each new product striving for its place on the shelf.
What’s in a Name?
The list of craft beers are now endless, new trends are constantly emerging (coffee beer anyone?) with brand names becoming more creative and quirkier. The story-telling element is now a popular trait of brand recognition. A simple online search for Irish craft breweries will provide an array of stories and folklore from humble beginnings to historical mythology. While taste is the distinctive feature of a craft beer, it is visual identity which entices the consumer first. Being distinctive in the marketplace helps ensure recognition and gain a competitive advantage. To achieve this, the branding of a product should embody a type of uniqueness and difference.
Looking at the Irish Craft Beer market, we see this distinctiveness at play. We have seen an array of unique clever names, logos and designs. At times, names appear non-sensical, like ‘Whiplash Roll Over’ or ‘Black Donkey Sheep Stealer’ for example, however, it is this type of creative branding which only adds to the allure of the craft beer industry.
Larger brewing companies will of course have their own Intellectual Property strategies in place making it more essential for the smaller independent microbreweries to fully understand how to protect their own brand.
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Please Note: As it currently stands no decision has been made with regards to how Brexit will affect those who hold an EU Trade Mark and Design Registrations. As we know following Brexit, the UK will no longer remain part of the European Union, therefore EU Trade Marks and Designs may carry no protection in the UK Marketplace with decisions ongoing on how best to approach this.
Upon a quick search, we found that many ‘craft beers’ had only filed EUTM’s and therefore if Britain is an important market for them, they might want to look at their IP portfolio in light of Brexit.
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