The Risks of Rebranding


Rebranding is supposed to provoke a response, right? Consumer interest? Marketing awards? A trade-mark lawsuit?

Brick Brewing Co., an independent Ontario brewery, recently rebranded their Red Baron beer, updating the look with a new label, to the right.  The old label, at left, was used since the late 1980s and was registered as a trade-mark in 1991.


The new label attracted the attention of rival Labatt Brewing Company and last week Labatt sued for trade-mark infringement and sought an injunction, alleging that the new Reb Baron label was confusing with Labatt’s Brava label (left).  The Brava label was also registered as a trade-mark in April, 2009.

Though the word marks RED BARON v. BRAVA, for beer, are not at all similar, the look, colour, and layout of the labels is arguably more similar, since the word Baron is given more prominence in Brick’s new label.  This highlights the risks of rebranding.  The lessons for business?  Sometimes an updated label will be launched without the same level of scrutiny that is given to a new brand. Even with a “soft” launch such as this, trade-mark searches, trade-mark advice and industry awareness can help mitigate the risk of trade-mark disputes before a new brand or label is launched.

And sometimes, you get hit with a lawsuit just because your competitor is your competitor.

Calgary – 10:30 MST

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