The drinks giant objected to independent Cardiff-based brewer Simon Doherty selling his additive-free beer under the brand Bare Naked Beer because it believed the name was too similar to that of its Naked Juice Drink.
Doherty told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “They [PepsiCo] don’t even have a beer product, which is what bugs me. I wrote to them saying that I was only interested in making beer. I’m never going to make a naked juice.”
But PepsiCo stuck to its guns and the court ruled in favour of the drinks giant after a lengthy and expensive court case.
Doherty had the right to appeal but didn’t see the point.
‘Bulldose the little people’
He said: “They [PepsiCo] have got the money and the power to bulldoze the little people wherever possible. They are determined to keep the word ‘naked’ as their brand, even in instances where they’re not using it, such as beer.”
A spokesman from PepsiCo told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “PepsiCo does not comment on legal matters.”
The court didn’t find in favour of PepsiCo in terms of the t-shirts the brewer produces with the Bare Naked Beer logo, but Doherty still had to meet the cost of representing himself in court.
“It would have been a lot more expensive had I lost outright,” he said. “I would have faced astronomical costs.”
The legal battle also took its toll on his business as a lot of Doherty’s energy was taken up with the court case.
“It’s been really restrictive in terms of not being able to get my product out there,” he said. “My brand has gone up against Pepsi and been wiped out.”
Interest in Doherty’s preservative- and additive-free beer has surged in the past 12 to 18 months – some of this due to the court case.
“Being the underdog has benefitted me in terms of the publicity and exposure I’ve had in Cardiff. It’s a really friendly city and the Welsh are good at supporting the underdog. PepsiCo is just too big.”
Doherty is selling a lot more of his t-shirts since the court case because local people want to support “the little guy who has lost to the big guy”.
Now the case is over and no longer holding him back, he plans to capitalise on this to push the sales and get his beer stocked in more pubs and off licences.
But first he has to come up with a new name, brand design, and website for the beer, which he plans to launch in March 2013.
“Over the past two years I’ve been racking my brain over what to call my pure and natural beer now. I’m a bit washed out after the trial so I’m launching a competition for a new name on my website to reap the rewards of all the kind support I’ve had.”