McGregor’s Notorious Whiskey (or Whisky?) runs into problems

Monday, September 25, 2017

At the post-fight press conference after losing a boxing match to Floyd Mayweather, and winning perhaps $100,000,000, an energized Conor McGregor announced a new business venture.

“Notorious Irish whiskey, coming soon,” he crowed. “I’m going to take over the Irish whiskey market – and this is delicious! Boy that whiskey tastes so good. Oh s***. Keep an eye out for it.”

Weeks before MayMac, McGregor attempted to register a Europe-wide trademark “Notorious” for drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (Euipo).

However, Mark Paul for the Irish Times reports that there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.

Séamus O’Hara, the founder of the Carlow Brewing Company and a serial drinks industry investor, this month hired a Madrid law firm as he seeks to block McGregor.

On September 5th Euipo wrote to his company, McGregor Sports and Entertainment, to say O’Hara has intervened and is opposing his plan. O’Hara already personally owns a European trademark for “Notorious” in two categories, the first covering beers and non-alcoholic drinks and the other covering spirits.

He registered it with Euipo in May, 2016. It is the only European trademark owned by O’Hara. Carlow Brewing Company last year launched a pale ale called Notorious Red IPA. O’Hara complains that McGregor’s trademark is identical to his, covers identical product categories, and he alleges it is likely to confuse the public.

If O’Hara wins out, it could cause a major problem for McGregor’s whiskey plan, and could even lead to him having to change the name of his product.

Drinks industry sources, meanwhile, are speculating that McGregor’s plan to launch Notorious whiskey is nowhere near as advanced as it first appeared following the Mayweather fight. If he is to sell Irish whiskey, he will have to strike a production deal with an Irish distiller based somewhere on the island, as Irish whiskey is protected under European labeling rules. It is unclear so far with which distiller, if any, McGregor has yet struck a deal.

The label on the bottle he produced for the world’s press also appeared to misspell the word “whiskey”, using instead the spelling more closely associated with Scotch, “whisky”. This has lead to speculation within the industry that he took advantage of the global media spotlight to plug the product, long before it is ready to come to market.

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Meanwhile, some of McGregor’s other ventures are running into similar issues around trademark. Two brothers in the UK are trying to prevent ‘The Notorious’ from using “The Notorious” for sports apparel. And a company from Holland is trying to prevent him from using “McGregor” for clothing.

The good news is there’s always fighting, and a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz is likely next. What’s not so likely is the rumor that it is set for UFC 219 on December 30.