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Craft brewers at war over "Pacific Ale"

Craft brewers at war over "Pacific Ale"

Byron Bay craft brewer Stone & Wood has launched a second salvo in its long-running battle to stop Melbourne brewer Elixir from using the term "Pacific Ale" on its Thunder Road product.

In July last year the company's claim that Thunder Road had copied the name was dismissed. Federal Court Justice Mark Moshinsky found Stone & Wood had not proven Thunder Road had infringed the registered trademark of its Pacific Ale label or engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.

He concluded Pacific Ale was not a style of beer in the technical sense and said the word "Pacific" had been used descriptively.

Elixir boss Philip Withers said in a statement afterwards: “We feel vindicated in our actions and believe the decision is a victory for common sense and for craft beer drinkers throughout Australia.” 

Counsel for the two companies returned to the Federal Court this week to hear Stone & Wood's appeal against the judgment. 
"Consumers don't know the name Pacific Ale divorced from Stone & Wood," counsel Philip Crutchfield QC told the court.

"It's very clever what they have done. They knew it was specific in mark and wanted to springboard off that."

Crutchfield said the use of Pacific Ale as a stand-alone brand was similar to the use of Grange when referring to Penfolds Grange wine.

"Brands matter in this industry, and names matter," he said. "Pacific Ale as a name only derives meaning ... from Stone & Wood. Pacific Ale in the Australian market only has meaning as a beer brand, or style of beer, because of Stone & Wood."

The hearing continues.