Copying row

BrewDog accused of ‘knock off’ bottle design

A row has erupted over BrewDog’s bottle design, left, and Muckle Brig’s bottle

Scottish brewer BrewDog is engaged in another copying allegation after an Edinburgh gin company accused the Aberdeenshire brewer of creating a “knock-off” version of its bottle design.

BrewDog has recently launched a tequila named Casa Rayos, but the bottle design has shocked Lind & Lime gin co-founder Ian Stirling.

He said he was “absolutely furious” after spotting BrewDog’s new bottle on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch programme.

“I was just scanning through Instagram and I saw a post from one of the presenters on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, and I was delighted because I saw Lind & Lime was featured on the show,” said Mr Stirling, co-founder of Muckle Brig which operates the new Port of Leith distillery.

“But then I looked closer and saw it was some sort of knock-off.

“We’ve seen knock-offs before from around the world, including Thailand and Australia, and I thought it was one of these.

“But then I discovered to my real shock that it was BrewDog, another Scottish company, that had created a product so like our own. You really don’t expect it to happen on your home turf.”

BrewDog insisted the two bottles were meaningfully different. A spokesman for the brand said the Casa Rayos bottle was “based on the colour and aesthetic form of the blue Weber agave plant” and there had been “no attempt whatsoever to replicate anything,” from Lind & Lime’s design.

“The painted (as opposed to clear) glass colour, bottle shape and contour, glass text, label size and placement, fonts and colours, and embossed design are all obviously different,” the spokesman said. “The bottle also has a real cork stopper and silver ring. And Casa Rayos is a super premium tequila, not a gin.”

Later on LinkedIn, Mr Stirling revealed that BrewDog had sent him some of their bottles of tequila and said no one at any stage of the firm’s design process had noticed the similarities with Lind & LIme.

He said he had responded by sending a postcard to BrewDog and some of his firm’s other products “to ensure they never accidentally design anything similar to our brands again”.

Paddy Fletcher and Ian Stirling
Ian Stirling, right, with business partner Paddy Fletcher at Port of Leith distillery (pic: Terry Murden)

He wrote: “If we’d launched Lind & Lime Gin, or Jack Vereker had launched El Rayo Tequila after BrewDog’s tequila, would they have taken legal action? I guess we can all make up our own minds on that. Whatever happens, IP law is hopelessly flawed in favour of big against small.

“I was way beyond my comfort zone yesterday, but the support has been incredible. Thank you to everybody who got in touch. I also know that there are some very talented people up in Ellon who care deeply about what they do.

“BrewDog were good enough to send us some bottles of their tequila. Apparently no one, at any stage of their design process, raised any potential similarities to Lind & Lime. None of their designers – nobody!

“So we’re returning the favour by sending them some of our other products. Hopefully, fingers crossed, this should ensure that they never accidentally design anything similar to our brands again.”

Ian Stirling’s postcard to BrewDog

The row follows a dispute between BrewDog and non-alcoholic brewer Jump Ship which claimed the Aberdeenshire company had copied its Shore Leave branding.

BrewDog dropped the ‘jump ship’ tagline at the request of Jump Ship founder Sonja Mitchell, but was not willing to change the name of its beer.

In 2017 BrewDog made its own claim against a Birmingham pub after it planned to call it Lone Wolf, the same name as a BrewDog spirit. The brewer eventually backed down, but only after being accused of heavy-handed tactics.

A year earlier Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club threatened BrewDog with court action after it unveiled a black wolf’s head design as the emblem for Lone Wolf, claiming that it bore a striking resemblance to the patented Wolves emblem.

That same year BrewDog was drawn into a trademarking claim over its Elvis Juice brand from the estate of Elvis Presley.



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