TADCASTER brewery Samuel Smith’s legal battle over a rival company’s use of a white rose logo has ended in a partial victory.
Dubbed the ‘War of the Roses’, the Tadcaster firm has been involved in a marathon High Court battle with Cropton Brewery, based near Pickering, saying the latter’s use of the flower symbol on two of its beers’ packaging was “confusingly similar” to Samuel Smith’s well-known trademark designed in the late-1960s.
Mr Justice Arnold rejected Samuel Smith’s claim that a label formerly used on Cropton’s Yorkshire Bitter infringed the trademark, but accepted Cropton’s Yorkshire Warror label, which also featured a white rose, did infringe copyright.
He said: “In my judgment, Cropton Brewery’s use of the Yorkshire Warrior label, but not its use of the Yorkshire Bitter label, gave rise to a misrepresentation. In my judgment, the misrepresentation in relation to Yorkshire Warrior is damaging to the reputation and goodwill of the trade mark.”
But in delivering his ruling, the judge lamented the crushing legal costs each side had built up and believed an earlier resolution could have been found.
He said: “This is a case about Yorkshire pride, in more ways than one. The protagonists, Samuel Smith and Cropton Brewery, are two proud, independent Yorkshire breweries.
“The dispute is one which ought to have been capable of settlement out of court a long time ago. Instead it has grown into a case.
“The legal costs are out of all proportion to what is at stake, particularly from Cropton Brewery’s perspective. The legal process appears to have caused the parties to become entrenched in their positions rather than seekiing common ground.”