In summer last year we were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to supply an exclusive lager to students and staff of the University of Reading. Keen to engage with the community, we put a competition out open to anyone with a university email address to suggest the name of this new beer, and ‘Supernova’ came out on top.
Beer naming and IP is an ongoing conversation in the beer scene at the moment. Only recently our trademarked ‘Calypso’ brand was used by another brewery, we also had a 'Lumina' this year. Multiple times per year these situations arise. Generally speaking, it’s honest mistakes that are worked out between breweries in practical and amicable ways, though we are all of course obliged to protect ourselves and our IP. Ultimately we’re all in similar positions and no-one wants to see good beer and resources wasted.
Knowing how frustrating it can be to be on the receiving end (and not wanting to accidentally copy anyone), we do always check platforms like Untappd before selecting beer names. Sometimes, we might really like an idea, and previous uses of a name might have been very different, or retired products. In those cases we’ll reach out to the breweries and ask for their approval before we go ahead (thanks everyone, Unstoppable Force/Immoveable Object is an example from this year).
Sometimes we’re too slow. We were gutted to find out that Thornbridge had beaten us to the excellent Office reference ‘How The Turntables’ this year and had to call them up with our tails between our legs.
The word ‘Supernova’ currently has 612 listings on Untappd. So although not at all original, we did know that it would be sold only within the University, so away from any potential confusion. As interest in the lager grew, we had a request to package a small amount into can for the campus shop, which then would have allowed for some cases through our Tap Room and Web Shop.
After we posted a shot from our canning line, a representative from Brewpoint, a brewing arm of the £55m+ turnover Charles Wells / Wells & Co, contacted us on 07/11/23 to let us know that they in fact had a trademark registered for the name which we were in breach of. The next day, we spoke on the phone to apologise, explained the situation and came to a mutual agreement on selling remaining stock before rebranding.
Unfortunately we then had no communication from them in response to written notes regarding this agreement, so we held on for a few weeks to allow and confirmation or questions, before eventually pressing ahead this week and beginning to sell the Supernova cans.
Today, 08/12/23, a representative has re-surfaced, disputed the agreement and demanded that we cease selling the beer immediately.
To prevent, in our opinion, the entirely unnecessary wastage of this beer and, in our opinion, unnecessary involvement of lawyers, we’re now selling the beer for £12.00 / case while stocks last. For every case sold, we’ll be donating £2.00 to Two Saints, a charity supporting homeless people in Berkshire and surrounding counties.
To all customers who have purchased Supernova this week, we will be in touch directly to offer you the difference between the price you paid and the new price in credit.
Thank you for helping us to move the stock as quickly as possible, and we hope you enjoy
Supernova at this bargain price.