29 March 2017
At BrewDog we are pretty relaxed about our intellectual property, in fact we have given away all our recipes with DIY Dog. No other brewery has ever taken such an open approach with it’s intellectual property. Ever. You can download all our recipes here.
But our trademarks are still important - as they are for any independent company. Of course we try to protect them from misuse by others if it will negatively affect our business, because we have jobs to keep, Equity for Punks shareholders to protect and a mission to achieve.
By protecting our trademarks, when we have to, we are just looking after our business and our team. We own trademarks just like we own our buildings, our brewing equipment, and our dogs. If someone stole our dog or our bottling machine we would not be happy, intellectual property is no different.
In terms of the Lone Wolf Bar in Birmingham, we paid for and trademarked Lone Wolf in 2015. The Lone Wolf Bar in Birmingham opened in January of 2017. Our wider team and legal partners, acting entirely in our best interests informed them that we owned the name and they would have to stop using it. Just as we'd do if someone opened a bar called BrewDog.
However, hands up, we made a mistake here in how we acted. Almost all companies always look to enforce trademarks, whereas at BrewDog we should take the view to only enforce if something really detrimental to our business is happening. And here, I do not think that was the case. As soon as I found out, I reversed the decision and offered to cover all of the costs of the bar. I also invited them up to Ellon to make their own gin with us. This is a mistake that hurt a lot; but like all mistakes, it made us better. This will not happen again.
All companies make mistakes, and we fixed this one quickly, openly and honestly.
In terms of the apparent ‘Draft Punk’ bar in Leeds, this is just opportunistic lies combined with inaccurate journalism. There was no bar here, and no ‘cease and desist’ from our side. The other party tried to register ‘Draft Punk’ as a trademark, but we own the ‘Punk’ trademark for beer, so naturally we objected as that is one of our trademarks. The Guardian article in question quotes Tony Green as saying “They can’t own punk, that’s the whole point” – this is pretty ironic given that they were trying to register Punk.
If we did not object they could have registered Punk and sold it to AB-InBev the next day, and then we could have been driven out of business.
Any company, anywhere in the world, in always going to protect the trademark of its flagship product. If you do not protect your trademarks then you risk forfeiting them entirely. People criticising us for defending our trademark is like people criticising us for not letting someone walk into our offices and steal our computers.
We won’t apologise for protecting our flagship brands, our business and the livelihoods of our amazing employees who all work really hard to make our beers fantastic and our business what it is. Just because we are a living wage employer, just because we share our profits with our teams, just because we are part owned by our Equity Punk community does not mean we should not protect our trademarks. Every company does.
So please don’t steal our trademarks. Or our dogs.
Love BrewDog xxxxx