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Paradise Breweries Ltd is the new manufacturer in the Papua New Guinea beer industry. I knew two years ago the brands they would introduce to the market as the company had filed several trademark applications.
Since their launch, Paradise Breweries has been impressive in its marketing giving a fresh new alternative to the “ever thirsty” local beer consumers.
It’s good to see a new player in the market – competition is good for the industry, good for the consumers. Consumers get to have a choice whether it be based on quality, price or both. Existing competitors are put on notice – to keep an eye out and “step-up” their game. Ultimately, consumers are the winners if competition is conducted within the confines of the law.
But something far more serious is brewing up between Paradise Breweries and South Pacific Breweries and it’s nothing to do with taste.
In 2019, Paradise Breweries rather surprisingly filed an application to register the trade mark “PACIFIC BEER“. That trademark is now, even more surprising – registered.
While South Pacific Breweries may not have intellectual property rights over the word “Pacific” per se, one has to wonder why Paradise Breweries opted to choose a word that forms part of a rival’s business name. An honest mistake? Maybe, maybe not.
Not to be outdone, late last year, South Pacific Breweries, filed a trademark application, bizarrely, for “Paradise Lager” (logo). The word “Paradise” featuring prominently in the competitor’s business name.
While the Paradise Lager trade mark application is still under examination and yet to be registered, the products bearing this trademark are already out in the market – the kind of approach trademark strategists would advise against.
Whether South Pacific Breweries’ “Paradise Lager” is a ‘retaliation’ to Paradise Breweries’ “Pacific Beer” is unknown but the “cross-use” of these words have long term negative effects on their brand. Two main potential consequences are:
1. dilution of each other’s respective trademark rights; and
2. more concerningly, creating a “likelihood of confusion” in the market.
When several “beer buying” friends were shown a bottle of the “Paradise Lager”, these friends assumed (wrongly) that the “Paradise Lager” bottle was one manufactured by Paradise Breweries. It’s not.
This might not be of immediate concern to consumers. But for competitors, issues of trademark rights and infringement will likely arise when their effects affect their revenue and profits.
Some consumers have already been confused by this “cross-use”. A wantok purchasing a Paradise Lager thinking that it is one of the offerings by the new entrant Paradise Breweries when in fact it’s a beer manufactured and supplied by South Pacific Breweries.
The “likelihood for their to be confusion” in the PNG beer market is real and the potential consequences serious. This is because:
- Both competitors are in the same market and the trademarks in question relate to identical goods (beer).
- Prominent words in the “cross-use” of the relevant trademarks are:
- substantially similar or identical.
- phonetically similar.
- generally, mean the same
3. The “cross-use” of these words can likely deceive consumers.
It is important to note that trademarks can be registered for both product brand names and business names. If you have a registered trademark, you can take infringement action to prevent the use of a name as a brand name or business name. Essentially, a registered trademark is a very powerful asset.
Before embarking on a new business or product, evaluate and identify all potential intellectual properties and have them registered. A more pro-active approach on the protection of your IP minimizes the potential for infringement and of course maximizes revenue in the long term.
Imagine introducing a product to the market and spending all that money on packaging and advertising only to be told that the trademark that’s used on your product infringes another trademark.
If you have any, intellectual property related queries, please contact Vai IP on the following contact details:
firstname.lastname@example.org | vaiiplawyers.com