The Star Early Edition
Bitter row brewing over beers
MAMELODI is on the verge of having a beer named after the township – but beer lovers may not be able to indulge in it this festive season, as two brewers are getting in a froth over the exclusive rights.
In one corner is Vusi Beaukamp, who claims he and his brother registered a company called Gauteng Breweries in 2016 in the hope of creating proudly local brews.
Beaukamp said they then decided to name the beer after Mamelodi and subsequently registered it with the Department of Trade and Industry. They named it Mamelodi Strong Beer.
He said he believed that anyone else wishing to register a business associated with Mamelodi or beer could not do so as he and his brother held the trademark.
Beaukamp said his company had already created the mock-up and was planning to launch the beer ahead of the festive season when his hopes were dashed by another brewer.
“I started seeing the concept of Mamelodi Lager on social media and this freaked me out. I found it too coincidental that another person started a similar idea when we are brewing from the same place… I don’t understand whether he understands the process of trademarks.”
He said he did not want any mudslinging as, at the end of the day, they were both “black guys from the township” trying to bring a proudly local product to the market. “Every time we have European brands flooding our markets with their products and I wanted to change that,” Beaukamp said.
In the opposite corner is Melusi Hlempu, founder of Mamelodi Lager. He said he made the decision to get into the beer market last year and name it after the vibrant township where he grew up.
Hlempu said he went to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) and put in an application. He picked up the name of the other brewer on the database.
He said that Beaukamp approached him a few months later questioning him about the company, but he referred him to the CIPC.
University of Pretoria expert on intellectual property law Chris Job warned that, as matters stood, neither of them had the trademark rights.
He said the law did not allow a person to monopolise the name of an area as it was public domain. This could be allowed only in exceptional circumstances.