A record number of trademark registrations for spirits were lodged last year, according to law firm RPC.

The number of trademarks registered for spirits jumped 12% last year with 2,482 filed in 2018, up from 2,210 the year before.

Over a two year period, between 2016 to 2018, there has been a 58% increase in new spirits trademarks registered.

Alongside this, the number of distillery businesses in the UK increased 21% in the year to 2015 in 2018, up from 170 in 2017.

Flavoured gins enjoyed a record year in 2018 with a 751% increase in sales in the UK, and this trend has spread to other spirit types, such as rum, whisky and tequila, according to the latest WSTA market report.

RPC’s head of food and drink, Ciara Cullen, said: “Consumer demand for new flavours and experiences has contributed to increased innovation and diversification of product lines – we are seeing all kinds of exciting new infusions.

“A lot of multinational distillers are now bringing out extra lines and limited runs of niche drinks, to compete with independents that have started to bite into their market share.”

Ben Mark, IP Partner at RPC, said: “The importance of establishing a distinctive brand identity in today’s highly competitive spirits market cannot be overstated.

“Failure to adequately protect that intellectual property can result in brand value becoming diluted by rivals launching copycat products. Should that end in litigation, having trade marks in place is crucial.”

Spirits have been at the centre of a number of trademark disputes. As an example, Glenfiddich lost a trademark dispute against Indian distillery Glenfield, who it accused of copying its distinctive label and logo.

And Redsmith distillery was forced to change the name of its Outlaw Navy strength gin after opposition from The Outlaw Rum Company in Scotland.

Also last year, Conor McGregor had to withdraw a trademark application for his whiskey brand which conflicted with a trademark owned by the Carlow Brewing Company.