Fresh trademark blow for McGregor’s whiskey plan

Founder of Carlow Brewing Company owns trademark for “Notorious”

 Conor McGregor: has proven himself to have considerable commercial and media acumen. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty

Conor McGregor: has proven himself to have considerable commercial and media acumen. Photograph: Ethan Miller/Getty

 

The Dublin-born mixed martial arts superstar, Conor McGregor, is facing a fresh setback to his plan to cash in on his name by launching a whiskey brand using his moniker, Notorious.

The fighter revealed the plan last month following his boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather, and said the whiskey was “coming soon”.

Séamus O’Hara, the founder of the Carlow Brewing Company and a serial drinks industry investor, this month hired a Madrid law firm as he seeks to block Mr McGregor from registering the Notorious trademark across Europe.

In the weeks leading up to the Mayweather fight, Mr McGregor filed an application with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Euipo) in Spain to register “Notorious” as a trademark for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks across the continent.

On September 5th, however, Euipo wrote to his company, McGregor Sports and Entertainment, to say Mr O’Hara has intervened and is opposing his plan.

Mr O’Hara already personally owns a European trademark for “Notorious” in two categories, the first covering beers and non-alcoholic drinks and the other covering spirits.

He registered it with Euipo in May, 2016. It is the only European trademark owned by Mr O’Hara. Carlow Brewing Company last year launched a pale ale called Notorious Red IPA.

Mr O’Hara complains that Mr McGregor’s trademark is identical to his, covers identical product categories, and he alleges it is likely to confuse the public.

He has hired Madrid firm, A2 Estudio Legal, to fight his case. Mr McGregor is represented by prominent Dublin trademark attorneys, FR Kelly.

If Mr O’Hara wins out, it could cause a major problem for Mr McGregor’s whiskey plan, and could even lead to him having to change the name of his product.

Top earners

Drinks industry sources, meanwhile, are speculating that Mr McGregor’s plan to launch Notorious whiskey is nowhere near as advanced as it first appeared following the Mayweather fight.

If he is to sell Irish whiskey, he will have to strike a production deal with an Irish distiller based somewhere on the island, as Irish whiskey is protected under European labelling rules. It is unclear so far with which distiller, if any, Mr McGregor has yet struck a deal.

The label on the bottle he produced for the world’s press also appeared to misspell the word “whiskey”, using instead the spelling more closely associated with Scotch, “whisky”. This has lead to speculation within the industry that he took advantage of the global media spotlight to plug the product, long before it is ready to come to market.

Mr O’Hara and a spokeswoman for Mr McGregor had not yet responded to queries over the weekend.

Apart from of his ring/octagon skills, the Crumlin fighter has proven himself to have considerable commercial and media acumen, making him one of the top earners in global sports after a meteoric rise.

He has been hampered this year, however, by a series of trademark rows over various names and words associated with his personal brand. A pair of UK brothers in the sports equipment business want to block him from using “The Notorious” in relation to sportswear. Meanwhile, a Dutch fashion company is trying to prevent him using “McGregor” in relation to clothing.