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Monday 1 September 2014

How a corporate giant caused a tiny wine producer to change its name

Lion is a leading beverage and food company with a portfolio that includes many of Australia and New Zealand’s favourite brands - the company says on its website. 
Lion was formed in October 2009 under the name Lion Nathan National Foods, when Kirin Holdings Company Limited completed its purchase of Lion Nathan and merged the business with National Foods – which it has owned since 2007.
In 2011, the business became known as Lion. 
Lion Point vineyard, now renamed Lost Buoy
Today, Lion employs close to 7,500 people across Australia and New Zealand and boasts a portfolio of household-name brands in beer, spirits, wine, milk, fresh dairy foods, juice, cheese and soy beverages.
It is a range that includes beer brands including XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn, James Boag and West End Draught, and wine brands including Croser, Knappstein, Petaluma, Preece, Smithbrook, St Hallett, Stonier, Tatachilla and Wither Hills.
But nothing that I can find called Lion that people might actually buy in Australia; although there is a range of Lion beers sold in New Zealand.
But when a small wine producer opened up in McLaren Vale, South Australia, it made the mistake of choosing the name Lion Point for its brand after a local geographical landmark. 
It is my opinion that you'd have to be a moron in a hurry to confuse a massive international conglomerate with a McLaren Vale producer with a dozen or so hectares of vines at a place called Lion Point. 
Might is right, however, and after legal action Lion Point was required to cease using the word Lion "under the purity of international trademark class 33". 
Lion Point Wines is now called Lost Buoy - a landmark they spotted from their clifftop vineyard. 
Somewhat predictably, Lost Buoy Wines are not able to comment as part of their "agreement" with Lion, although general manager Anna Watson says: "The Lost Buoy name stems from the coastal location of our home vineyard - and the independent nature of our small company."
All's well that ends well, then, but this does not bode well for an even smaller wine producer in Western Australian - Lion Mill. One has to wonder whether it, too, will be seen as an obstacle to corporate progress, even though it only produces 250 cases of wine a year. 
Oh, and Tesco supermarkets in the UK are selling a brand called Lion's Gate from South Africa. Be afraid Tesco. Be very afraid.


  1. nothing that I can find called Lion that people might actually buy.

    First brewed in 1907 by present-day Lion's corporate ancestor Lion Brewery the original "Lion beer" was rebranded by some ponytailed wanker in the late 80s as "Lion Red" and today is probably New Zealand's most popular beer by volume, filling a spot in the NZ fridge that in Australia would be occupied by Castlemaine XXXX.

    Also sold under the Lion label are "Lion Brown", which is a draught beer a bit more proletarian in personality, and "Lion Ice" which is another one of those cold-filtered lager things.

    But let there be no doubt - there are things called Lion that people buy and those things get bought by the truckload.

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