York & North Yorkshire

Rival Yorkshire brewers in legal war over label design

Cropton's Yorkshire Warrior beer and Samuel Smith's white rose design on one of its beers
Image caption The judge said the rose on Yorkshire Warrior beer could cause confusion

A High Court judge said "Yorkshire pride" was partly to blame for a legal war between two rival breweries about a rose design used on beer labels.

North Yorkshire-based Cropton Brewery disputed claims by Tadcaster-based Samuel Smith that it had infringed its trademark rights.

Samuel Smith said Cropton's had used a "stylised white rose design" on labels for two of its beers.

A judge ruled Cropton's had infringed its rival's rights on one label.

Mr Justice Arnold ruled Cropton's had infringed Samuel Smith trademark rights on labels for its Yorkshire Warrior beer, but had not done so on labels for its Yorkshire Bitter.

He ordered Cropton's not to use the white rose design on Warrior beer but made no order for payment of damages.

Lawyers said Cropton's would give profits from the sale of Yorkshire Warrior - estimated to be more than £20,000 - to Samuel Smith and Samuel Smith would donate them to military charity Help for Heroes.

The judge said: "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 which is out of all proportion to what is at stake in commercial terms.

"One explanation for this is Yorkshire pride; but I fear the English legal system bears a measure of responsibility as well."

The judge said Samuel Smith registered the white rose design as a trademark after the logo was created by an advertising agency in the 1960s.

The brewery thought drinkers might think that Yorkshire Bitter and Yorkshire Warrior were made by Samuel Smith because of the roses on the labels.

Mr Arnold said there were "differences" between the rose on Yorkshire Bitter labels and the Samuel Smith trademarked rose.

But he said the rose on Yorkshire Warrior labels was "more similar" and could cause confusion.

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