Red Bull threatens English gin maker Bullards with legal action over name

·3 min read
Norwich-based gin maker Bullards has been threatened with legal action by Red Bull over its name. (Bullards/ PA)
Norwich-based gin maker Bullards has been threatened with legal action by Red Bull over its name. (Bullards/ PA)

An English gin maker threatened with legal action by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull has refused to back down.

Bullards, which is based in Norwich, received a letter from lawyers acting for Red Bull stating there is a “likelihood of confusion on behalf of the public” as both brand names “include the term bull”.

Red Bull is opposing an application to register the mark Bullards before the UK Intellectual Property Office and wants the firm to delete a series of goods and services from its application, including energy drinks, events and non-alcoholic beverages.

Bullards said it does not want to make energy drinks, adding the claim is “ludicrous” and they are prepared to go to court.

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LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES - 2020/02/01: Cans of Red Bull energy drinks seen in a Target superstore. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Red Bull argued there could be confusion over the word "bull". Getty Images)

The letter from Red Bull lawyers said: “Our client recognises that your client’s brand stems from a historical family business and so it has asked us to highlight that it does not want to prevent your client from doing anything it has historically done.”

But it said Red Bull is “particularly concerned about the breadth of goods and services” in Bullards’ trademark registration and application.

Russell Evans, of Bullards, said he laughed when he received the letter.

He said: “What they’re claiming is ludicrous.

“There is no confusion whatsoever and actually if we did concede we would be admitting there was.”

Evans said it would cost “thousands of pounds” to remove the goods and services listed in the letter and that Red Bull is “trying to bully us”.

“If needs be we’ll go to court and let’s see what a court of law has to say on it," he added. 

“They’re not saying we have to stop doing it (using the Bullards name) for gin, but they’re saying we can’t do events, we can’t do soft drinks, which we are going to do because we’re going to do tonics, we can’t do energy drinks – not that we would ever want to do energy drinks.”

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The Red Bull headquarters is seen in Fuschl, Austria, May 26, 2016.   REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
The Red Bull headquarters in Fuschl, Austria. (Reuters)

Evans said he doesn't "think deeper pockets wins every case" after he was advised to do what Red Bull had asked. 

Bullards, which has 10 staff, was founded in 1837, making beer and importing wine and spirits, before national brewery Watneys took it over in 1963.

The Bullards name was revived in 2015, with the company focusing on gin.

Austrian firm Red Bull was launched in 1987, some 150 years after Bullards.

Yahoo News UK has contacted Red Bull for a comment.

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