The conflict: Molson-owned Newfoundland-brewed Black Horse has been a registered trademark in Canada since 1922. San Miguel, a competing Philippine brewery, wanted to sell its own trademarked Red Horse brew in Canada. Protesting that consumers were likely the Trade-marks Opposition Board.
The outcome: The board sided with Molson, but San Miguel appealed to the Federal Court. Wrote the learned judge: “The potential for the use of phrases such as ‘this is a horse of a different colour’…jump out at one. The Court will refrain from such frivolities, for this is a case about beer and a case of beer is a serious matter.” He ruled in San Miguel’s favour. As so often happens, the dark horse lost.