UK And Swedish Brewers Embroiled In Trademark Dispute End Cult Beer

As hopes of a trademark resolution dissipate, Yellow Belly Beer, a coveted Imperial Stout with a rabid cult following in the United Kingdom as well as in Europe has come to an end

Yellow Belly, a 2014 collaboration stout was first developed by the UK’s Buxton Brewery and Sweden’s Omnipollo, as part of Siren Brewing’s Rainbow Project Challenge where 14 breweries paired up and were tasked with creating a beer inspired by the colors of the rainbow.

Buxton and Omnipollo who drew ‘yellow’ which they took as referencing cowardice, particularly political cowardice and Yellow Belly, an 11%  peanut butter and biscuit Imperial stout (brewed with neither peanuts nor biscuits) was born.

Packaged in paper deliberately designed to disparage the Klu Klux Klan, Yellow Belly became a huge international success that was released by both breweries annually. But due to a trademark dispute with Batemans Brewery who clearly own the name, Buxton and Omnipollo announced that they would cease production of their collaborative beer under the Yellow Belly name.

Buxton and Omnipollo claim that the appointment of IP attorneys as well as the wording of Batemans’ letter to them represented “an emphatic and direct refusal to allow continued use of the name Yellow Belly” and “precluded the possibility of an amicable settlement”.

And Buxton and Omnipollo also reiterated that with 22,000 breweries in the world, “producing a truly unique and distinct beer is becoming harder and harder to do. Naming, branding and marketing of beer is also becoming increasingly difficult.’ But they also admitted “that all breweries had the responsibility to respect each other’s intellectual property rights.”

Batemans’ Managing Director, Stuart Bateman countered with an updated statement  which stressed that there had been a lack of communication between both sides…

The most recent telephone conversation we had with Omnipollo regarding Yellow Belly was a couple of months ago. I was contacted by a very nice lady from Omnipollo with an enquiry about our registration of the Yellow Belly name. I explained to her that we did have a protected registration, however we were always open to discussions as to how the situation could be sorted out amicably.”

“I handed the enquiry onto the people who deal with our brand names and we expected a response but were not contacted further. So, Omnipollo were contacted once more asking if they would like to discuss how the situation could be resolved. They responded saying they would, but nothing more was heard until our social media channels lit up last week. Since then we’ve been getting quite a bit of abuse for something we don’t really feel is our fault.”

“It has been stated that they tried several times to negotiate a resolution, but myself, nor the people dealing with the branding issue have heard anything.”

“Ironically, we very much feel we are on the same side of small independent craft brewers like Omnipollo and Buxton. We’ve got a track record of sharing beer names that we have registered, we’ve happily swapped brewing knowledge and advice with other brewing start-ups, and we’ve even shared Batemans yeast with other brewers.”

“It’s a shame no one got back to us, so this could be sorted out”.

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