Friday, 4 May 2018


Yesterday afternoon (May 3) I was asked by Rory, who writes Hashigo Zake’s weekly email, whether I had any news to include. This prompted a routine check of the IPONZ website for recent trademark applications under Class 32. And for the first time in a long time I hit pay dirt. On April 27 Lion made three new trademark applications – “AT LARGE”, “DANK” AND “COMMON LAGER”.

The last time I stumbled across an application from Lion that I thought was dodgy was a whole five years ago. That was for “BLIND PIG”, which is the name of a famous beer that has never been available in New Zealand, but that many would love to see here. And I thought they had a cheek trying to grab it. In a conciliatory moment I wrote to the law firm whose name was on the application and was told that the application was no longer needed and would be dropped. So… no harm no foul?

Yesterday I tried emailing the partner at Lion’s law firm that I corresponded with back in October 2012, but got an automatic reply saying that he’d left. (Much later in the day I got a response from a different partner, noting my concerns and promising to raise them with Lion.)

Ok then, time to throw a little outrage grenade. I wrote a piece that was incorporated in Hashigo Zake’s weekly email and stood back. And nothing happened. Does no-one read our email to the end any more? Sigh.

This morning BWB’s Ryan made a joke on facebook that he might be forced to change the name that he uses on facebook, which happens to be Krispin Dank – itself a comment on the use of Dank as a beer flavour descriptor. A couple of follow up questions later the cat was out of the bag.

If you follow certain people on facebook or twitter then all hell as broken loose. Admittedly it’s a pretty small circle but the level of outrage is high. It’s mostly – or probably all – about the application for “DANK”. People really love that word right now and it’s in plenty of beer names. Which is exactly why, if IPONZ do their job, Lion’s application is doomed.

If the application is doomed, and someone at Lion or their law firm should know this, why did they bother? I think the answer might be in that level of outrage being shown over DANK. No-one is talking about “Common Lager”. I find this application equally problematic, since it’s for what is, arguably, a recognised style name. Or maybe I should say that it’s for an expression that is used occasionally in the place of a certain well known style name (California Common), and clearly evokes that style name.

To put it another way, I wonder if we’re all being played and the whole Dank application is a distraction, and Lion won’t mind if they lose it as long as “Common Lager” gets through.

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