Our story so far
As a young family we often visited various soft-play venues, family friendly restaurants and tiny tot’s clubs in our local area. These experiences as a family were priceless and we enjoyed them immensely. It was whilst we were taking part in these activities that we first noticed that there were very few caffeine free and low sugar options for young children to drink. Often the only soft drinks on offer were sugar and caffeine filled sodas and juice drinks.
This lack of healthy refreshments for the youngsters made us think. We paid more attention to the contents of the drinks on offer at these local venues and around the country as we visited friends and family. We were surprised by the high sugar content in many of them, not ideal for young ones. Other drinks on offer contained considerable levels of caffeine and various other surprising ingredients which we had not noticed before.
Our interest grew. We felt so passionate that we discussed starting a campaign to make sure children have healthy drinks options and understand the importance of healthy drinks and making the best choices. We decided to invest our limited finances into offering healthy alternatives to the multitude of sodas and juices.
At this stage we had no idea where to start such a venture. We had no experience in the food and drinks industry, we were newbies. In early 2014 we began our adventure and decided to start a healthy drinks business.
Step 1, hmmm what do we call ourselves?
Hmmm, what do we call ourselves? Difficult, but then one of our clever youngsters had a eureka moment. We were sat trying to encourage our youngest, Olivia, to have a drink from her bottle during feeding time. Well, in Scotland, where I spent a lot of my childhood, it is not uncommon to hear someone say “ya wee beastie” or refer to a baby as a “funny wee beastie”. Well, I came out with “are you thirsty my wee beastie” this feeding time, and it was born, a thirsty beast.
Step 2, what about a logo?
My wife, Shona has a creative streak and came up with some options which we showed various potential customers for feedback. Whilst we played around with the concepts one thing always remained, the gappy tooth smile which reminded us of our young Olivia so much. Our eldest, Elizabeth got involved in the design and helped decide on the colour and outline. We eventually all agreed on a friendly fluffy character which would represent our drinks brand for youngsters and encourage them to learn more about real hydration.
Step 3, the unexpected legal battle…
After the exciting initial designs were completed, we chose to be sensible and register the trademarks here in the UK. Our first trademark went through no problem, this was our company logo sorted and ready to go. Next came the logo which would be placed onto our drinks, this started well, however a few days before the trademark was approved, a nasty letter came in the post.
Monster Energy, the billion-dollar US company, objected to our trade mark application.
They stated that their customers could become confused between our start-up brand logo and some of their trademark straplines.
Monster employed the services of International Law firm Bird & Bird, and between them submitted lots of paperwork hoping to frighten my wife, our two young children and myself off.
Our little family against the huge might of the corporate giants of Monster Energy & Bird & Bird, sounded like a great fight, so, being a retired soldier and veteran of GW2, I decided to take them head on.
Over a year later, both sides completed their evidence and counter evidence submittals. We never had a doubt that consumers would be confused between our brand and theirs. Amazingly, the Monster Energy team and Bird & Bird had submitted such poor paperwork mainly related to market areas such as central Europe and the USA and referenced their Monster logo instead of their stated objections, that the trade mark office ruled in our favour.
ThirstyBeasts.com won the trademark case in November 2017 and we were set for our first production run, almost two years later than planned, because of Monster Energy. This was the third attempt to release a drink to market, and a very expensive experience financially.
To our disbelief, on the 27th December 2017, Monster Energy appealed the decision and we were sucked into a new legal challenge based on the application of the law. This means that Monster Energy, based in the USA did not agree with the decision of the United Kingdom’s trade mark office. Once more, Monster delayed our plans to release our drinks, and wasted more time and money which any start-up can ill afford. Bird & Bird confirmed in February 2018, that they would employ the services of an intellectual property law specialist to represent them. So, on Thursday 17th May 2018, ThirstyBeasts.com will be attending the hearing in London, where we hope common sense will prevail.
If you wanted to know what the objections looked like at the beginning, here are some examples, where Monster Energy truly believed their customers would get confused between our brand and theirs;