Tiny brewery targeted by Mercedes Benz over beer label

Tiny brewery in historic pub is ‘threatened’ by £15billion car giant Mercedes Benz over beer label the car giant says is too similar to its logo

  • Tiny brewery Wear Beer’s logo is a three-pointed star inspired by a local myth
  • But Mercedes Benz contacted the owner because the logo is too like its own
  • Owner Romero Johnson, 33, launched the Sunderland business last month 

A tiny brewery operating from a cellar beneath a historic pub faces a battle against the might of carmaker Mercedes Benz – over a three-pointed star on its logo.

Wear Beer was only launched last month by Spanish-born entrepreneur Julio Romero Johnson.

He created a logo based on mythical local creature, the Lambton Worm, slithering around a red star, inspired by the emblem of the international brigades as they fought fascism in his home country’s civil war.

The legend of the worm dates back to medieval times when a rebellious character John Lambton was said to have caught a creature with a ‘salamander-like head’ in the River Wear.

The monster became extremely large and went on to terrorise local communities, devouring livestock and snatching small children, according to folklore.

When he tried to register the design, Mr Romero Johnson was ‘surprised and bewildered’ to hear of the German car giant’s opposition.

Wear Beer was only launched last month by Spanish-born entrepreneur Julio Romero Johnson

Mr Romero Johnson was ‘surprised and bewildered’ about the German car giant’s opposition

The Intellectual Property Office informed him it had been contacted by London solicitors acting on behalf of Mercedes-Benz.

The lawyers said the carmaker was unhappy Wear Beer’s logo was too similar to theirs and was ‘threatening to oppose’ its registration. Mr Romero Johnson was also warned he could have to pay the car giant’s costs.

Valencia-born Mr Romero Johnson, 33, who drives a Peugeot, said: ‘I was surprised to receive it (the IPO’s letter). My heart sank when I saw ‘Mercedes’ and not some corner shop you can go and have a chat with.

‘I don’t know if they will change their mind. I intend to write to Mercedes through their solicitors.

‘Stars are quite common on brewery logos. There is also a link between Spain and Sunderland, through people from here who fought for the Republicans.’ Mr Romero Johnson added his company’s star is thicker than the silver one used by Mercedes.

The Intellectual Property Office informed him it had been contacted by Mercedes-Benz

He launched Wear Beer in September, operating from a 25ft x 12ft cellar beneath the Ship Isis, a Victorian pub in Sunderland town centre.

Its turnover delivering a small range of cask ales to around 10 pubs in Sunderland pales in comparison to that of Mercedes-Benz.

The carmaker’s accounts for last year showed it ‘delivered’ more than two million vehicles. The company’s earnings before tax and interest in the first quarter of 2023 totalled 5.2bn Euros.

Mr Romero Johnson, who has lived on Wearside since 2013, has drafted a polite letter of to the car firm.

The brewer said he has ‘expressed his doubts as to consumers confusing the two organisations due to the logos’.

He received the ‘notice of threatened opposition’ to his logo close to the end of a two-month period set by the Intellectual Property Office for objections to registrations.

Mr Romero Johnson yesterday said he has decided to abandon his attempts to register the brewery logo – but plans to continue using it without registration unless Mercedes Benz issues a ‘cease and desist’ notice.

The brewer, who produces a small range of four beers, a pale ale, bitter, stout and IPA, said: ‘They’re a massive company which, as far as I know, doesn’t sell any kind of beer. Do they have to go to this extreme?

‘It’s very annoying but I haven’t the money to cover the solicitor’s bills if I was to continue with the application and lose.’

He added his uncle Juan Romero – based in Spain and who designed the logo – was ‘quite surprised and shocked’ at Mercedes Benz’s intervention.

Mercedes-Benz and the Intellectual Property Office have been contacted for comment.

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