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Norway's Søl beer in war with Mexican giant

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Norway's Søl beer in war with Mexican giant
Senja Øl Bryggeri's Søl label net to the Mexican beer. Photo: Senja Øl Bryggeri
22:22 CEST+02:00
A tiny microbrewery in far northern Norway has entered a trademark war with global brewing company Heineken, because its name and logo Søl is too close to that of its Mexican beer brand Sol.
Senja Øl Bryggeri AS, which launched this year on the tiny island of on the island of Senja, has labelled its beer bottles with the words SØL, with the letters laid diagonally across the front. 
 
“They are one of the world’s largest brewer, and we have a microbrewery with a local focus. We’ll see how this goes,” said Tor Egil Sebulonsen, the brewery’s chief executive. 
 
He said that his company had received objections from Cervezas Cuauhtémoc Mocezuma, Heineken’s Mexican subsidiary, when it tried to register. 
 
“SØL stands for Senja Øl, and the island is a big part of our marketing,” he said. 
 
He denied that the brand was trying to win customers by using the Sol brand.  
 
“We have no desire and will gain no advantage from being associated with this thin, industrially produced drink named SOL,” he said. 
 
Heineken’s lawyer Bryn Aareflot argued that SØL was clearly exploiting the Sol brand. 
 
“It is obvious that there is an unfair exploitation of our client’s well-known brand,” he wrote in his submission. “The use of SØL for a beer will also cause damage to our client’s well-known brand’s distinctive character and reputation.“
 
“The elements SØL and SOL consists of an equal number of letters, namely three letters. The first letter and last letter advocated elements are identical, namely S and L. They have similarities, both phonetically and visually, and they provide a very similar impression.” 
 
A decision is expected from the Norwegian patent office within a few months. 
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