County Durham brewery in row with chocolate giant Mars over ‘Snickers’ style beer cans

County Durham brewery in row with chocolate giant Mars over ‘Snickers’ style beer cans

A County Durham brewery has been forced to scrap to avoid a sweet-toothed tangle with confectionery giant Mars Inc over one its drink.

Coxhoe based brewery S43 recently released a limited run of its imperial chocolate fudge stout.

With flavours and ingredients found in chocolate and nut bars they aptly named it ‘You’re Not You When You’re Thirsty’.

The cans colour, logo and slogan was a ckeeky play on the famous Snickers bar and ad slogan ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’.

The stout sold out within 48 hours and received widespread praise from industry big names –

But the can’s labelling quickly came to the attention of American juggernaut Mars Inc ‘.

Sonnet 43 Brew House, Michael Harker (Head Brewer, sitting) and Mark Hird (Owner)

The firm, which was called sonnet 43 until a rebranding exercise last year, received a warning letter from Mars’ lawyers warning them to change the label or face possible legal action.

The email read: “Due to our extensive marketing efforts and sales success, the nickers trade marks, and the goodwill they represent, are extremely valuable and well-known assets which Mars will take all reasonable steps to protect. Use of Mars’ copyrighted materials, designs and trademarks without its explicit authorization can be legally prohibited.

“We appreciate your enthusiasm for our Snickers brand and recognise that you may not have intended to harm Mars, but in order to preserve the significant investment we have made in protecting the strength and goodwill of our intellectual property, we must ensure that our intellectual property is not misused by others.”

“In this case, we believe you calling your product ‘You’re Not You When You’re Thirsty’ and using a highly similar Parallelogram Design, font and colours, creates a false association with our Snicker brand which is not only capable of creating confusion in the marketplace, but also of taking unfair advantage of the repute and distinctiveness of our Snickers trade marks.

“We trust that you share our desire to bring this matter to an immediate and amicable resolution. To that end, we ask that you remove all references to our Snickers assets and to any other of Mars’ brand names and trade marks from your product packaging/labels, as well as all platforms within 15 days from the receipt of this email.”

The brewery, which is part of Sunderland’s Tavistock Hospitality which also owns gin makers Poetic License, said it isn’t in a position to pursue legal action, so is taking down the imagery and any reference to the drink on their website and social media.

And having become known for its cheekily-named brews – which include The Dank Knight and Wu-Tangy Clan – the firm has been keen to ensure their fastest ever selling product isn’t forgotten in a hurry.

So the chocolate fudge stout us being released with a cheeky new can design called ‘The One We Can’t Talk About’.

Marketing manager Alex Clark, who worked on the new design, said:“It has been one of the fastest-selling brews in our history and we don’t want the hard work of the brewery team to be forgotten, which is why we’ll be referencing it as “The One We Can’t Talk About” moving forward.”

“We of course completely respect the effort and time Mars has put into building their brand.

“The creation of this brew was simply to pay homage to one of the brewery’s favourite snacks, using flavours synonymous with the Snickers bar.”

Initially known for their award winning cask ales; Sonnet 43 went through a rebrand to S43 after a bold move to bring over Texan brewer Alex Rattray to focus on their more hop forward Craft Beer range which “You’re Not You When You’re Thirsty” is a part of.

The brewery was founded in 2012 in Coxhoe and takes it name from the well-known verse by Elizabeth Barret Browning, who was born and raised at nearby Coxhoe Hall.

Mars Wrigley declined to comment.

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