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News article3 November 2022European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency

Red Bull and Bullards – Doctor Zhivago



Bullards Gin, a small gin distillery from Norwich, has been successful in opposition proceedings over Red Bull. 

The British gin-maker applied to register the word mark “Bullards” as a trade mark before the UKIPO (United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office), for goods and services in classes 3, 4, 5, 21, 32, 33, 41 and 43, including among others, alcoholic beverages, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, shows, events and services for providing food and drink. 

The energy drink company Red Bull filed an opposition against the registration of the word mark “Bullards”, arguing that the signs were similar enough to create a risk of confusion in the eyes of the consumer between the two marks, as the term “Bull” was included in the sought mark. Furthermore, the Austrian company argued that the Norwich-based company wanted to take advantage of its reputation.

For this reason, they requested Bullards to limit the goods and services of the contested mark, by removing the energy drinks, events and non-alcoholic beverages. 

The UKIPO has now ruled in favour of Bullards, stating that, although both trade marks shared a common element, this was not sufficient to confirm the existence of likelihood of confusion. 

Now Red Bull can lodge an appeal against the decision, so we will keep you posted!



Anna Pasternak, the great niece of Boris Pasternak, author of the world-famous novel Doctor Zhivago, sued novelist Lara Prescott, author of the novel "The Secrets We Keep" (TSWK), for copyright infringement.  

Anna Pasternak was the author of the book “Lara; The Untold Love Story That Inspired Doctor Zhivago” (Lara), a biography of Boris Pasternak's lover, Olga Ivinskaya, that inspired the character of Lara in the Doctor Zhivago novel. She sued Prescott for allegedly copying a substantial part of her book “Lara”, more specifically the selection of events, structure and arrangement of facts and incidents. For this reason, she claimed £2 million in compensation. 

The High Court in London declared that “Lara is a nonfictional historical work – i.e., the book is not a work of fiction and describes actual events. TSWK is a work of historical fiction. It is based on real events, but those real events have been woven into the story devised by the defendant, and have themselves been adapted to suit the story”.  

Moreover, as both books were based on the same historical events and used the same source material, the chronology was likely to be the same. On those grounds, the Court found that Prescott did not copy the selection of events from Lara, but they were rather different works. Therefore, the Court did not consider that copyright had been infringed.



Publication date
3 November 2022
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency