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Samuel Smith launch legal action over Cropton Brewery's white rose beer branding
11:00am Tuesday 5th October 2010 in News
A BREWERY’S fundraising drive for wounded servicemen is in jeopardy after rival brewer Samuel Smith’s launched legal action over the use of Yorkshire’s white rose on beer labels.
Cropton Brewery launched its Yorkshire Warrior beer in 2008, having won permission from the Yorkshire Regiment to feature its emblem – a lion carrying the standard of St George above a white rose – on the labels and pump clips.
Most of the profits from the beer go to the regiment’s benevolent fund, which helps seriously-wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan. More than £10,000 has been raised so far through the sale of the beer.
But court documents obtained by The Press have revealed that Cropton, based near Pickering, has been served with a writ by Tadcaster brewery Samuel Smith’s, claiming that Cropton’s use of the “stylised white rose device” is a trademark infringement.
The writ states that the white rose device is “confusingly similar” to the white rose used by Samuel Smith’s as its trademark since the 1960s.
It alleges that, despite correspondence on the issue, Cropton has continued to use or authorise the use of the white rose, while Samuel Smith’s continues to suffer actual or threatened loss or damage.
The Tadcaster brewery is seeking an injunction, damages and the destruction of beer bottles and pump clips with illustrations which infringe the trademark, and costs.
A Cropton Brewery spokesman said that, after informing the regiment of the brewery’s legal action, the regiment had asked the brewery to remove the regimental emblem from the labels.
He said the legal action, scheduled to go to a hearing at the High Court next year, was being contested by Cropton.
The brewery’s defence to the writ states: “The Yorkshire rose is a common symbol and the claimant (Samuel Smith’s) is not entitled to assert any kind of monopoly over its use.”
The defence statement claims the rose on the Warrior beer is not confusingly similar to Samuel Smith’s emblem, and denies it will be associated with its products. It also claims there are a number of other Yorkshire brewers which also use the rose.
The defence document reveals that another beer made by Cropton, MS Bitter for Marks & Spencer, which also features the Yorkshire White Rose, is also involved in the legal action by Samuel Smith’s.
A Samuel Smith’s spokesman declined to comment and a spokeswoman for the regiment said it did not feel it would be appropriate to comment.