Beer ‘war of roses’ heading to High Court

A FAMILY-owned brewery defending its right to carry Yorkshire’s famous emblem on its beer bottles in the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday, has claimed it will win a modern-day War of the Roses.

Cropton Brewery, behind the New Inn at Cropton, near Pickering on the edge of the North York Moors, is being taken to court by the Tadcaster-based brewery Samuel Smith’s over the use of the white rose on its bottles of Yorkshire Warrior Ale.

The beer was launched in 2008 in support of the Yorkshire Regiment to raise money for seriously-wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

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Last year Samuel Smith’s, which has used a white rose as its trademark since the 1960s, issued Cropton Brewery with a writ claiming its use of the “stylised white rose device” is a trademark infringement that is “confusingly similar” to its own logo.

But the micro brewery has refused to back down and will now challenge its right to display Yorkshire’s famous symbol in the High Court next week.

Andy Davidson, general manager of Cropton, which was founded in 1984, said: “We are not worried because of the advice we have been given and going to the High Court you need to think you are right – we will win.

“The white rose is something that belongs to Yorkshire.

“It is a badge for the whole of the region, not just one company.

“It seems ridiculous we are going to end up in court for running a charity campaign.”

Mr Davidson said the regiment had given the brewery permission to use its emblem – a lion carrying the standard of St George above a white rose – but had now asked for it to be removed.

“They are fighting out in Afghanistan and are still losing soldiers lives,” he said.

“They have very much more important things on their plates than legal disputes.”

The owner of Cropton Brewery, Phil Lee, was inspired to raise cash for brave army heroes after his brother Paul, 42, returned from the first Gulf War and Bosnia where he served with the Royal Engineers.

Shocked by low payouts for injured servicemen, he linked up with the Yorkshire Regiment and launched the 4.4 per cent Yorkshire Warrior ale in 2008, with most of the profits going to the regiment’s benevolent fund.

The bottles and beer pump clips featured the historic emblem – which was issued to the Yorkshire Regiment by the Queen – and the ale became a hit with drinkers, raising £10,000 to which the New Inn added £5,000 worth of hospitality events.

The writ issued by Samuel Smith’s alleges that, despite correspondence on the issue, Cropton has continued to use or authorise the use of the white rose, while Samuel Smith’s continues to suffer actual or threatened loss or damage.

The brewery is seeking an injunction, damages and the destruction of beer bottles and pump clips with illustrations which infringe the trademark, as well as costs.

Cropton’s defence statement claims the white rose on the Yorkshire Warrior beer is not confusingly similar to Samuel Smith’s emblem or products, and states that there are a number of other Yorkshire brewers which also use the symbol.

A spokesman for Samuel Smith’s was unavailable for comment.