Big Drop Brewing Co has successfully challenged a trademark on the term ‘Dry January’ in a tribunal held by the UK Intellectual Property Office. 

Rob Fink

The trademark for Dry January was registered by Alcohol Research UK (now known as Alcohol Change UK) in 2014 to support its science-based resources for harmful and hazardous drinkers.

This was in the primary class of educational and behavioural change programmes but, in 2022, ACUK sought to extend the trademark in new areas of products and services.

This attempt to trademark the phrase meant that ACUK argued that no-one else — including low- and no-alcohol brands, venues, and retailers — could use the words in relation to selling its drinks.

Big Drop reasoned that this unduly monopolised the term, not only restricting the sales and marketing activity surrounding alcohol-free drinks, but also having the unintended consequence of hindering the charity’s own overarching goal of reducing alcohol harm.

“The alcohol-free movement has been driven by innovative start-up brands over the last few years, by offering drinkers palatable alternatives for January and beyond,” said Rob Fink, founder of Big Drop Brewing Co.

“A lot of people across the board actually enjoy doing Dry January to give their bodies a much-needed rest while seeking out new alternatives emerging in the drinks world. Indeed, high-quality alcohol-free drinks give people a reason to go and support the hospitality industry in January and reward retailers who go large on their seasonal displays. 

“Many of those brands are pretty much aligned with ACUK on the need for effective work towards reducing alcohol harm, so it makes sense to work together and not put-up unnecessary barriers.”

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