Two comedians famous for creating social media skits while they were unemployed faced legal action after their bear was accused of copying the design of another.
Larrikins Jack Steele and Matt Ford, better known as the Inspired Unemployed, partnered with Torquay Beverage Company and Mighty Craft to launch Better Beer in October 2021.
The zero-carb craft beer was the brainchild of Nick Cogger of Torquay Beverage Co, but each of the comedians owns a 20 percent stake in the company.
A few months after the release of Better Beer, another beer company filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia, alleging that the influencers’ beer “gave false, misleading or misleading representations” at launch.
Brick Lane Brewing, whose shareholders include Billy Slater, Dan Carter, Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy, filed a lawsuit in December.
The company claims that consumers will be confused that their product Sidewinder Hazy Pale and Better Beer are somehow related and are seeking corrective advertising and damages.
The three-day trial began on Wednesday in Federal Court.
Brick Lane lawyer Justine Beaumont told the court that the brand relied heavily on the “characteristic curved stripes” of Sidewinder beer cans and packaging.
“Sidewinder Hazy Pale has distinctive curved stripes, blues, organ and yellows, as well as an off-white background,” Ms Beaumont said.
“Most of the background is left blank in off-white, and the jar is 355ml. We’re not saying it’s unique, but it’s not the usual beer can size.
“Then the dark coloration of the product name, the font on the can and the carton, which is black.”
Ms Beaumont told the court that Sidewinder was involved in sales and marketing even before Better Beer was launched.
By this time, she said, consumers had “recognized that this outfit was related to Sidewinder.”
The court was told that Sidewinder launched its Instagram profile in July 2021 when the jar and its design appeared on the page.
“The emphasis is on the jar stripes in the tile and color scheme,” Ms Beaumont said.
She told the court that the brand also issued a press release on July 21 and more than 300 sidewinder bear bus advertisements were installed.
Ed Heary QC, acting on behalf of Better Beer and its owners, told the court that an ASE announcement dated 26 July 2021 announced that the product would hit stores in October of that year.
He explained to the court that the inspired unemployed are “two unemployed” traditions that started making videos during Covid-19.
“The rest is history,” Hiri said.
On the same day that the ASX was announced, Mr Khiri told the court that five articles had been posted on various news outlets as well as social media pages of influencers.
While Better Beer isn’t supposed to copy Sidewinder, Mr Hiry said it’s absurd that the two products could confuse consumers.
“If there is one thing you will remember, it is the name. If you ever return to look for him, you will need a name,” Hiri told the court.
“There are many products with a white background. Consumers should be looking for a little more than just color schemes.
“Brand names clearly tell you which one is which. We would say that there is no chance that you could be misled.”
Mr Khiri told the court that beer consumers are regularly exposed to “a lot” of brands.
“It’s a visual cacophony of brands,” he said.
The trial continues before Judge Angus Stewart.
Originally published as Inspired unemployed man to stand trial over Better Beer