Friday, 16 August 2013

The ‘Red Bully’ Saga and the world of Brand Trademark Protection Redbull and Redwell

“ Seeing Red”
In marketing, the answer to the question “what’s in a name ?” is “a very great deal of money.”

Online Press Coverage of the Redwell Brewery and Red Bull Story in August 2013
A lot of investment of capital and skills goes in to building a brand and defending it from deliberate or accidental imitation. It is a serious business.

‘Me too’ products try to piggy back on the efforts of brand leaders products. They have to stay clear of infringing copyright, patents and intellectual copyright.

 We hear regularly of titanic fights on Intellectual copyright, patents and trademarks from the likes of Apple and Samsung etc.

Biting the Bullet ! ( Once bitten twice shy ?)

In the drinks sector there have been past cases such as in 2012 Red Bull won a High Court bullfight with a rival firm Sun Mark.

Austrian firm Red Bull GMBH claimed that Sun Mark infringed trademarks by naming a drink Bullet, and using the advertising slogan "no bull in this can".

Sun Mark, and associated shipping firm Sea Air & Land Forwarding, disputed the claim.

But a High Court judge sided with Red Bull GMBH, following a hearing in London.

Mr Justice Arnold heard that Red Bull GMBH sold a drink called Bullit as well as Red Bull.

Red Bull GMBH said trademark rights to the word Bullit and the words Red Bull had been breached.

The judge said Sun Mark's use of Bullet created a "clear likelihood of confusion", and added that the "no bull ..." slogan took "unfair advantage of the repute of Red Bull".

Sun Mark, and Sea Air & Land Forwarding, did infringe trademarks, he concluded.

 Defending the brand names, trade marks is strategically significant and tactically important..

However brand policing, if clumsily executed can create short term unfavourable publicity in the form of ‘David and Goliath’ confrontations which attract media attention.

Example of unflattering on line poll during
 the Red bull / Redwell story
This week’s “ Red Bully” story was covered online and n the conventional press by the likes of the BBC, Huffington Post, ITV,  the trade press sites  such as Brand Republic, Design Week as well as the local press and media of East Anglia.

The ‘free’ publicity and raised profile of the fledgling micro brewer Redwell from Norwich has probably been a boon to the eight employee company. The story has also raised the profile of the design work on the bottles and other merchandise  created by third year graphic designers at Norwich University of the Arts.

 However there must have had some heartbeat skipping moments  for the directors of the micro brewer, when they received the first and follow up correspondence of Red Bull’s Brand Tsar Herr Jeserznik  from Austria a few days ago.

Red Bull’s  brand enforcement manager, wrote to the microbrewery to lodge a complaint  asking that Redwell withdraw its trademark application as the names are apparently too similar.

Redwell is named after Norwich’s Redwell Street.

The letter stated that the name “comprises Red Bull’s earlier trademark ‘red’ as a whole, which is a prima facie for the similarity of signs.”

Moreover, all trademarks consist solely of English words and contain the common element ‘red’. The term ‘well’ is merely descriptive and therefore of no distinctive character at all.

Furthermore the term ‘bull’ and the term ‘well’ share the same ending and just differ in two letters.

“The ending ‘ll’ is identical and therefore the terms Red Bull and Redwell are confusingly similar from a visual as well from a phonetical point of view.”

Just some of the things that make for a brand
The letter added that the brewery’s name would “take unfair advantage of, dilute and tarnish” Red Bull’s trademarks and that if Redwell did not comply then the brand would take legal action.


In media reports of his letter, Mr Jeserznik said : ‘The term B-U-L-L and the term W-E-L-L share the same ending and just differ in two letters.

‘The ending (L-L) is identical and therefore the terms RED BULL and “Redwell” are confusingly similar from a visual as well as from a phonetical point of view.’

He went on to say “ that consumers would be confused by the similarity of the two brands.”

One of the bars at the 2013 CAMRA
Great British Festival of Beer 2013,held at  London's Olympia
Well attending this year’s Great British Beer Festival at London’s Olympia Centre I wonder how many of the beers and breweries are trademarked to the same extent.

 I noticed going round the various themed bars there were beers called Red Cullin from the Isle of Skye, Kempton an East Sussex Brewery had a beer called Red -  a hop-forward Amber Ale. Big fruit flavours balanced against a complex malt backdrop, or Hawkshead (Cumbria) Red Rich flavoured with lots of fruitiness and good hop flavour with lingering after taste. 

There was Coggerrhall Gold from  Essex Brewer Red Fox ( a Golden Ale with intense lemon, grapefruit and lychee aroma/flavour with a small percentage of wheat). 

The Biggest Pub in London ?
Great British Festival of Beer
London Olympia 13-17th August 2013
Whilst Greater London’s Redemption Brewery’s Best Bitter Hopspur ( will they be receiving a letter from  White Hart lane’s brand enforcement supremo  for confusingly similar sounding name one wonders ? Are puns permitted ?)  Chewy biscuit malt flavours, slightly sweet with roast malt throughout. Citrus and pine flavours with a bitter finish.

Well, should Redwell’s bottled beers meet CAMRA’s exacting standards for real ale in a bottle  (RAIB) for beer that is unpasteurised and contains yeast and enough fermentable sugars to allow for a slow secondary fermentation in the bottle, they might well want to leverage profile further. They were not to be found at the Norfolk district bar at this year’s show.

Now that Red Bull has retreated from its initial threatening behaviour ,the short term poor publicity of being ‘branded’  “Red Bully” in the online coverage will probably have little long lasting adverse publicity of their image.

Indeed it could be seen an alert to any potential competitor large or small to be extremely wary of infringing on its brand names and trademarks when registering a trade mark.


Related Links

Edp 24 Video Interview with Redwell

Patently absurd Patent Trolls

BBC ‘s Rory Cellan-Jones excellent programme on Radio 4


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Marketing Today the essentials the 7 Ps1

Logo of the London Cooperative Society
 in the Fulham Road, London
 - the site is now a German style Pub
According to 'information Britain', the first true supermarket in Britain was not a Tesco or Sainsbury but the London Cooperative Society  on 12th  January 1948 in Manor Park a mere 32 years after Clarence Saunders began exploiting the self-service concept in his splendidly named Piggly Wiggly store in Memphis.

But human nature does not change much nor do their needs and wants that marketing fulfils.

What goes around comes around as the proverb goes.

Farmers markets have returned even to the main cities despite the cheap prices that the supermarkets can offer.

They seem to be a good starting point for this new series for the blog to take a fresh look at the topic of Marketing.

The Background to Marketing

Back in the day, the emphasis of any business was very much on the needs of the company and the product which it made.

 Products or services were launched into the market place and it was then the task of the marketing department and sales force to create the need for them.

 This was  known as company or product orientation. In many instances it was successful ( and can be today especially with new and innovative products).  However, to ensure on-going growth and development business needed to adopt a different approach.
The emphasis changed from being centred on the needs of the company and its products to being centred on the needs of the consumers who would buy the products or services.
  Companies found that they could only exist and grow if, before producing products, they first established what the actual needs of consumers were and then produced in line with those needs. 

The MARKETING APPROACH has a primary aim of customer satisfaction.  The better that customer needs can be satisfied, provided that by doing so a profit can be earned, the more businesses will thrive.  This is marketing or consumer orientation.

The Marketing Mix ( the 4 Ps plus some more)

This comprises four key elements which need to be considered in order to satisfy the customer needs determined by marketing research. 

The first of these is our PRODUCT or SERVICE, sometimes referred to as our “OFFERING”.  Product planning includes not only the physical design of a product but also decisions about packaging, branding, guarantees, trademarks and the anticipated market life of the product or service.  It is vital that the product or service is developed, in all aspects, to satisfy identified consumer needs. 
Parsons Green farmers market is located in a school playground
The second element of the marketing mix is PLACE, which refers to logistics or the distribution CHANNEL.  This includes everything from the physical aspect of getting the product to the customer, to the selection of appropriate channels of distribution.  These can include wholesalers, distributors or retailers if the product is intended for the general public
The third element is PROMOTION or marketing COMMUNICATION.  This includes advertising, sales promotion, personal selling, direct mail, telemarketing, exhibitions, public relations, social media etc.  The blending of these different methods of promotion is known as the marketing communications mix, and will vary from company to company, industry to industry.
The fourth element in the marketing mix is PRICE, also referred to as COST.  The price of a product or service must be set at a point where profit is possible, is acceptable and justifiable to the consumer, and is also competitive with similar products (if any exist).

These four key elements are collectively referred to as the four P’s of marketing, and the precise marketing mix, the relative importance of each, for one product or service is likely to differ enormously to another product or service.

If you are exclusively marketing a service then consideration should be given to two further P’s.  The first is PEOPLE – they are core to making your service a success and they must be fully trained and capable of meeting the customers’ expectations.  The second service ‘P’ is PROCESSES – and these must be structured so as to deliver maximum customer value and satisfaction.

Related Links