Anger over DB's Radler trademark win

20:44, Jul 14 2011
Radler beer
WHAT'S IN A NAME: Southern brewery Green Man took on giant DB over the use of the name radler.

Big brewer DB's victory in its long-running fight to trademark the name Radler sparked a flurry of outrage in the twitterverse.

DB trademarked the name in 2003, two years after its Monteith's Radler hit the market, and later took action in 2008 against Dunedin-based Green Man Brewery, saying its use of the name was a trademark breach.

The southern brewery was forced to relabel its beer "Green Man Cyclist".

But internationally radler, meaning 'cyclist' in German, is a term dating back to the 1920s used to describe a shandy-style light beer, usually about 2.5 per cent alcohol by volume, of Bavarian origin.

The Society of Beer Advocates (SOBA) applied to have DB's trademark revoked but yesterday the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ) ruled in DB's favour.

The decision provoked outrage online.

''I think I might start up some coffee brands called latte, cappuccino, espresso & flat White and trademark the names,'' Ryan Allan tweeted.


Peter Darlington went further and suggested ''NZ tweeps'' - Kiwis on Twitter - boycott the brewery's products.
Cameron Campbell tweeted: ''Radler it TM? Gosh, quick, TM the word 'wine' put everyone out of business.''

Perhaps the most bitter response was a Tweet which linked up to an open letter from ''Dominic'' whose craft beer bar Hashigo Zake in Wellington likened the decision to a Pyrrhic victory, in that it came at a devastating cost to the victor.

His letter, on the blog theliquorladder, said he would never carry any products from the brewery now and would refuse to serve their reps.

''So with overall sales of beer falling but the market for small independent breweries growing, you have a victory that demonstrates you have nothing but contempt for New Zealand consumers and other brewers,'' he said.

A Facebook group calling for a boycott of DB's products was also set up.

SOBA said the finding was ''extremely disappointing''.

''Imagine a firm registering the term 'Muesli' when used to describe cereal or 'Jalapeno' when used to describe hot sauce," said SOBA secretary Greig McGill.

''Our stated position has always been that we do not think that any brewery should own the name of a beer style.''

DB said it had not sought the trademark to prevent competition or restrict consumers access to different types of beer products.

''Our trade mark has never stopped shandy or lemon or lime flavoured beverages being made by local brewers under their own brand name,'' said DB general manager marketing Clare Morgan.

IPONZ awarded costs to DB but Morgan said it would not be asking SOBA to pay up.