TWO North Yorkshire breweries have begun a High Court battle over the use of the white rose of Yorkshire on their branding.

Tadcaster brewery Samuel Smith's today began a legal 'war of the roses' in London with microbrewery Cropton over the latter's use of the Yorkshire Regiment's cap badge on bottle labels and pump clips for its Yorkshire Warrior beer.

Cropton, based near Pickering, says it has raised about £20,000 through the beer for the regiment's benevolent fund, which helps seriously-wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

But Denise McFarlane, counsel for the Tadcaster brewery, today claimed the white rose 'device' on the cap badge breached the trademark of a rose Samuel Smith’s had been using for the past 40 years.

She said Samuel Smith's did not claim a monopoly on the use of the white rose, saying: “Context is everything.”

She said it would have “no complaint” if, for example, a wedding shop in Pickering used the rose. The rose on Leeds United FC's badge was mentioned in court, but she said that was very different to that used by the Tadcaster brewery and had no connection to beer.

She said a number of breweries had agreed to stop using the white rose symbol in response to letters from the Tadcaster brewery, and a complaint had been made about the label on a limited seasonal beer produced by York Brewery last May.

Morrison's supermarket had sold Yorkshire Warrior with the disputed label, unaware of the litigation, but stopped selling it after Sam Smith's got in touch, she said.

Citing articles including ones published in The Press last year, she claimed media coverage of the dispute had been 'emotive' and suggested there was a David v Goliath conflict, but she said Samuel Smith's was not a multinational company but a small, private, family-owned firm.

She said The Press had reported that Cropton’s sales were “booming”, when it reported plans to expand and create new jobs.

She alleged the Yorkshire Regiment had asked Cropton to stop using the cap badge with the rose on, but it had carried on using them.

Exhibits displayed on a table at the front of the court included beer bottles, trays, mats, glasses and pumps.

Earlier, in a victory for open justice, Mr Justice Arnold agrees to a request from The Press to tweet the proceedings live as they developed.

The hearing is expected to last for between one and two weeks, with representatives of the regiment expected to appear as witnesses.