Famous Norwich firm locked in legal battle with Red Bull

John Bullard crushes a Red Bull can as Red Bull accuses Bullards of a conflict of interest with the

John Bullard crushes a Red Bull can as Red Bull accuses Bullards of a conflict of interest with the brand names. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

What a load of BULL?!  

That's the view of an historic city gin company which has vowed not to back down after being told by global fizzy drink giant Red Bull their name is too similar. 

Despite being 150 years older, Bullards has been accused by Red Bull of "creating a conflict of interest" due to an apparent clash with the naming of the companies.

Basically, Red Bull which has existed for just three decades, believes a centuries-old company should ditch its famous name.

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards, and John Bullard, unhappy with Red Bull as they are accusi

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards Spirits, and family shareholder John Bullard, who are unhappy with Red Bull - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

John G Bullard is a family shareholder whose great-great-grandfather Richard Bullard founded the company in 1837. 

And he is determined the firm will fight the energy drink behemoth - and win.

Mr Bullard said: "My view is that Red Bull should back off and leave us alone to carry on delivering a quality product.

"We do not want a fight with Red Bull. It's them trying to come to us to drastically limit the brand. They have the nerve to try and charge us for products which are already registered.

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"I see this basically as opportunism of a large corporation trying to throw its weight around with a large body of lawyers behind it.

"We are doing nothing wrong and nothing illegal. We are simply building a business and hopefully bringing pleasure and happiness to our thousands of customers." 

Russell Evans, boss of Bullards, says the legal hassle has already cost his business "thousands" and he has solicitors primed and ready if Red Bull is prepared to take up the matter in court. 

 "Actually they are the ones copying us as we are 150-years-old and they started in 1987," Mr Evans said. 

"I think we a victim of our own success as we are getting bigger and expanding beyond Norwich.

"Our profile has been raised by opening a shop in Covent Garden and being on television through Norwich City."

A letter from Red Bull - shared with the Evening News - showed three pages of products which the Austrian company had listed requesting they be removed.

Russell Evans, founder of Bullards, with the marked trade mark registrations that Red Bull want Bull

Russell Evans, founder of Bullards Spirits, with the marked trade mark registrations that Red Bull want Bullards to relinquish at their own cost. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The letter went on to say Bullards had seven days to sign a letter drafted by Red Bull's solicitor to resolve the matter.

It remains unsigned. 

Mr Evans said: "It's down to them about whether it goes to court. These things can take a lot of time and it could be next year.

"It is in no one's interests to go to court so it is a question of persuading them. 

"Most people just go 'crikey, they are a massive company, you will just have to give' and I say 'why should I?'

"This is about justice, not making profits. My dad always said 'if someone bullies you, stand up to them'."

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards, and John Bullard, crush Red Bull cans as Red Bull are accu

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards Spirits, and family shareholder John Bullard, crush Red Bull cans as Red Bull are accusing Bullards of a conflict of interest with the brand names - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The conflict has been described as "eating up energy" for Bullards who have "ambitious plans" to grow.

It is not the first time Red Bull has challenged a Norwich brand. Back in 2013 Red Bull demanded Redwell Brewing withdrew its trademark application. 

This pitted a world-wide market leader with thousands of employers against a small brewery on the outskirts of the city.

Bullards and Red Bull staff could even face-off in London given the latter's headquarters are just around the corner from the Norwich business' new London store. 

The Norwich gin distiller has also opened a shop in the Westfield shopping centre in addition to its stores in Chantry Place and Jarrolds, which Bullards think has made Red Bull stand up and take notice.

Red Bull has been contacted for comment.

Which is the most historic brand? You decide ...

Bullards has been well-known for supplying beers, wines and spirits in the city since the mid-19th century, spanning six generations. 

After being founded by Richard Bullard in 1837, the company was passed on to his son Sir Harry Bullard who twice stood as MP for Norwich.

The Bullards Brewery workers. Picture: Archant

The Bullards Brewery workers. Picture: Archant

Described by current family shareholder John G Bullard as a "great benefactor" for the city, Sir Harry was good friends with mustard manufacturer Jeremiah James Colman.

This was despite the fact the two Norwich MPs were political rivals, with Bullard a Tory and Colman a Whig. 

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards, and John Bullard, shareholder, at the Bullards shop in Cha

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards spirts, and John Bullard, family shareholder, at the Bullards shop in Chantry Place. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Richard Bullard founded The Anchor Brewery, Bullards and Sons which became established across East Anglia. 

The brewery closed in 1966 but the company was revived as Bullards Spirits in 2015 through Russell Evans. 

It produced a commemorative 'Goin Up' gin to celebrate Norwich City's promotion to the Premier League in 2021 and maintains close links to the club.

Bullards gins. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Bullards gins lined up in Norwich - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Red Bull was created in 1987 and sponsors some sporting events. 

Are other East Anglian names in danger from Red Bull? 

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