Bass & Flinders distillery has finally won a hard-fought campaign to brand its Ocher Fine Brandy, as the company doubles down on investment in the brandy category.
The Australian Trademark Office had refused Bass & Flinders’ trademark application in August 2021 on the grounds that “ocher” was a generic term used by distillers to describe the color of brandy.
But last month hearing officer Debrett Lyons accepted Bass & Flinders’ protests that ocher was not used as an official color descriptor, nor had it been used by any other related Australian distiller. with a brandy product.
“I find people would accept ocher as a brownish-yellow color, but also adept at depicting deeper orange undertones or red-tinged browns,” said hearing officer Lyons.
“Ocher is not a word I would choose to describe the color of brandy, nor does it remind me of the color of brandy.”
She accepted evidence from Bass & Flinders managing director Holly Klintworth that the brand’s inspiration was the soils of Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula region where her distillery is located.
Ocher Brandy: Intellectual Property Lessons for Distillers
Klintworth said Adventure Drinks she was relieved by the decision, which only came after a frustrating and costly argument.
“It was very unfortunate that we had to go all the way to a hearing, which required us to hire a trademark lawyer who created a 100-page evidence and evidence document,” she said.
“But I would do it again, because of all of our products, Ocher Fine Brandy was my dad’s dream and the reason our distillery was originally started.”
Bass & Flinders was founded in 2009, but the company only recently continued the Ocher brand.
“It created a lot of angst that we built this brand and told this story on our flagship product, only to find out many years later that we might have to change its name,” she said.
“Our learning has been to look at product names and brand names of commercial brands as soon as you conceptualize them.”
Committed to Australian brandy
Bass & Flinders recently imported a 1,700-litre ex-cognac from France, which Klintworth says demonstrates its long-term dedication to brandy production.
“It’s around 50, it’s very beautiful and I don’t think there’s anything else like it in Australia,” she said.
In the meantime, she has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to undertake a six-week internship at a cognac distillery in early 2023.
“I’m going to write a report on what I learn and share it with the distilling industry in Australia, and hope it helps others,” she said.
You can listen to Holly Klintworth discuss Australian brandy on the Adventure Drinks podcast here, or in the media player below.
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