A story has emerged over the last few days that one of NZ largest breweries, DB Breweries, have somehow managed to copyright the term “radler”.
Now, for the non-beer-fanatics among you, a radler is a style of beer, just as lagers, ales, bitters etc are a style of beer. Radlers originated in Germany, and it is a low-alcohol drink similar to a shandy.
Quite a few breweries around the world produce beers in the radler style, including the Green Man brewery in Dunedin, and DB’s Monteith’s brewery.
I don’t think an Australian breweries make it because, let’s be honest, it’s a shit drink. If a sheila insists on a shandy, she has lemonade mixed with whatever’s on tap. End of story.
But that’s beside the point.
Now, you may think it’s no big deal. Two breweries making a certain style of beer and naming it as such, right? Happens all the time. Just about any brewery makes a lager, a bitter, a pale ale, a stout.
But no, in this case DB have somehow managed to copyright the word “radler”, and have let their legal heavies loose on Green Man, threatening all sorts of unpleasantness unless they stop calling their beer a radler. Which they have, changing it to “Green Man Cyclist” (radler is German for cyclist. Obviously cyclists like weak beer. Unlike mountain bikers. But I digress).
Basically Green Man can’t be arsed fighting the legal threats, and have chosen the path of least resistance. Fair enough, it’s hard enough for a craft brewery to turn a profit as it is.
DB are the people responsible for Tui, BTW. Due to that fact alone, they deserve not a moment’s sympathy.
Anyway, hopefully my ramblings have made it clear that this is a gross injustice. To use an analogy probably more familiar to NZ readers, if a winery copyrighted the word “chardonnay” and then threatened legal action against anyone else calling their wine chardonnay, there would be uproar (and yes I know all about the champagne naming issue, but the point remains).
DB have exploited the ignorance of the NZ intellectual property people with regards to an obscure beer style to somehow squeeze this through. Which is amazing in itself: surely their first thing they would do would be to google the word being copyrighted?
So anyway, to cut a very long story short, the crew from RealBeer NZ are calling for a boycott on DB products. However, I don’t think this is the most effective way to teach DB a lesson, as it presumes that educated beer drinkers buy their products in the first place (yes I know a couple of Monteiths beers are passable, but they’re not exactly wonderful).
So, forget about the boycott. Instead, grab a sux-peck of one of Green Man’s brews tonight.