AB-InBev threatens London microbrewery

11 June, 2013

AB-InBev, the world’s largest beer supplier, has demanded a London microbrewery with £1,000 in the bank drops the name Belleville in case customers confuse it with the US corporation’s Belle-vue fruit flavoured beer.

The small firm is named after the school attended by the children of Belleville’s founders Adrian Thomas and Mark McGuinness-Smith.  

To retain its community links the only people that can invest in the brewery are parents with children at Belleville Primary School in Wandsworth.

But the business, which has one part-time employee, was shocked to receive a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of Budweiser and Stella Artois supplier AB-InBev, which employs 150,000 people and has an annual turnover of £26 billion.

It said: “Visually and aurally, Belle-Vue and Belleville share the first six letters in common and end with the same letter ‘e’.

“Conceptually, both Belle-Vue and Belleville would be understood by the English-speaking consumer as signifying something beautiful.”

It added that Belleville’s use of the name “is bound to lead to deception and confusion among the public and our clients’ consumers and potential customers” and that this “enables you to take unfair advantage of, or free ride on, our clients’ reputation in the EU”.

The letter, from Bristol firm Humphreys & Co, demands the company destroys all packaging and promotional material bearing the Belleville name and the removal of any references to Belleville on the company’s website within 28 days.

Belleville said it only supplies business within a few miles of the microbrewery and called the legal threat “ludicrous”. 

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