June 2019. Brexit Drinks Ltd has failed to register BREXiT as a name and logo for beer in Europe after the EUIPO Grand Board of Appeal put a definitive end to its application earlier this year.
Logo applied for as a European trademark for beer by Brexit Drinks
The European trademark authorities had difficulty with BREXiT as a new trademark for beer right from the start. EUIPO initially turned down the application on the grounds that it was ‘offensive’ and ‘undermined the weight of an expression denoting a seminal moment in the history of the European Union’. How are you supposed to take that? Are you offended by BREXiT as a trademark for beer?
In the event, Brexit Drinks went to appeal. The Board of Appeal concluded that BREXiT was not in fact offensive, merely designated a political process – no more and no less. That appeared to leave the way clear for registration. But things turned out differently.
While not considering BREXiT offensive, the BOA nevertheless felt it wasn’t distinctive, or capable of being an indicator of commercial origin. Instead, it said the general public would see the mark as being a reference to the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
Perfectly good trademark?
We don’t entirely share this view. Although Brexit is now a globally recognised concept, we don’t see why the word (or logo) couldn’t serve as a perfectly good trademark for beer. We can see it now, packaged in a can bearing an attractive label: ‘I’ll have a Brexit six-pack please!’
In any case, events now seem to have overtaken the legal debate. If you conduct a Google search on the word combination ‘Brexit’ and ‘beer’, you’ll bring up a whole series of Brexit beer initiatives. So even if you think Brexit is a perfectly good trademark for beer, it would now be very difficult to claim exclusive rights to it with all those other Brexit trademarks swilling around on the market.