Bench Press 37-5: Red Horse/Black Horse - LawNow Magazine

Bench Press 37-5: Red Horse/Black Horse

A trademark dispute between Molson Canada and San Miguel Brewing International caused Justice Phelan of the Federal Court of Canada to begin his judgment with

“The potential for the use of phrases such as ‘this is a horse of a different colour’ or equine and beer jokes jump out at one. The Court will refrain from such frivolities for this is a case about beer and beer is a serious matter.”

At issue was the names of their beers: San Miguel wanted to trademark the name “Red Horse Malt liquor” but Molson objected, arguing that it had owned the trademark “Black Horse” since 1922, and consumers would be confused by the similarity of the names. Justice Phelan sided with San Miguel, stating

“One look at the labels of RED HORSE and BLACK HORSE is sufficient to dispel any notion of confusion between RED HORSE (with just a horse’s head) and BLACK HORSE (with a horse in profile). He found that there was no evidence that consumers would be confused and “as a matter of common sense, I find it unlikely.”

San Miguel Brewing International Limited v. Molson Canada 2005, 2013 FC 156 (CanLII)



Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell
Teresa Mitchell is the former Editor and Legal Writer for LawNow at the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

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