The soaring popularity of artisan drinks pushed the number of new registered beer trademarks to hit a record high last year, according to City law firm RPC.
The number of new beer brands registered in the UK jumped 12 per cent from 1,485 to 1,666 in 2015, an RPC analysis of figures from the government’s Intellectual Property Office show.
Total beer trademark registrations have increased 43 per cent over the past five years, from 1,162 in 2011.
This has been driven in part by the proliferation of own-brand “artisan”-style beers being launched by mega-brewers seeking a share of the thriving craft beer market, as well as a boom in independent breweries.
As the popularity of the sector continues to grow, supermarkets have also invested heavily by launching or expanding their own craft beers and sub-brands, RPC added.
In addition, mega-breweries have used the opportunity to add to their brimming portfolios by snapping up craft producers.
In December, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Camden Town Brewery for around £85m, while its newly-merged partner SABMiller bought up Greenwich-based brewer Meantime in May 2015 (though it was bought this year by Japanese group Asahi).
Jeremy Drew, head of retail at RPC, said:
Global drinks giants are also now launching their own artisan brands to capitalise on the growing craft beer market and to compete with the threat of independent breweries. In the past, mega-breweries may have placed greater emphasis on consolidating their current range.
As the number of craft beer products rises, the possibility for a conflict of similar names may become greater, especially in an industry so fast-growing.
As a result, there could be a rise in disputes between brewers and beer retailers over intellectual property rights of their craft beers.