Pie wars: Battle over naming rights to famous Killie pie

The future of the iconic 'Killie Pie' is under threat after a bitter legal battle broke out over its naming rights.

Published 13th Apr 2016
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Pie wars have been sparked between Kilmarnock FC and its match day caterers Brownings Bakers over who owns the award-winning delicacy.

Brownings, makers of the pie repeatedly named the best in the SPFL Premiership, angered the Ayrshire club's board by applying to trademark the fans' favourite.

The club responded by informing Brownings managing director John Gall that they will be severing their 13 year relationship with his firm on May 31.

Kilmarnock have now instructed trademark attorneys Marks & Clerk to fight the Brownings bid to call the 'Killie Pie' their own.

The UK Intellectual Property Office, who rule over trademark disputes, could take up to a year to make a decision on the matter meaning the 'Killie Pie' name will disappear while the case rumbles on.

Yesterday, Mr Gall said he would be withdrawing all sponsorship from the club and announced plans to rebrand the pie until the end of the legal dispute.

He said: "I was advised by trademark specialists last year that I had a right to trademark the name 'Killie Pie' because we owned it.

"We made the application just to make it official and ensure nobody else could use the name.

"Then two weeks ago I received a letter from the club stating they would be terminating their contract with us from May 31.

"They said it was because we had made the trademark application in bad faith.

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"I'm disappointed. I am a supporter of the club and I have put over Pounds 1 million into it over the years.

"But they have made their position clear and there is no way back so I won't be supplying them with pies next season."

He added: "I am just going to rebrand the product until the court case is settled and we will announce a new name next month.

"Our biggest customer for the 'Killie Pie' is Aldi and they have told me that they don't care what it's called as long as it's made by Brownings.

"If we win the case nobody else will be able to use the name so the club couldn't sell something called the 'Killie Pie'."

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Kilmarnock are set to argue that the 'Killie Pie' was manufactured by local butcher W W Wales before Brownings became involved and their ownership of the trademark 'Killie' gives them rights to it.

In a statement, the club, who are fighting relegation from Scotland's top flight, said: "The Killie Pie was first made not by Brownings but by other local bakers who won a best football pie in Britain award.

"In 2003, it was agreed by the then Kilmarnock chief executive that Brownings would supply the match-day tea-bar catering and, as part of that agreement, Brownings were given the right to use the club's 'Killie' trademark on its pies.

"This was a commercial agreement which included an annual sponsorship spend on advertising and hospitality but with no additional charge for Brownings' use of the 'Killie' trademark.

"The club has supported the Brownings business for 13 years by allowing them royalty free use of the club's trademark 'Killie' on pies.

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"It is understood that sales have grown very significantly from which the club receives nothing in return — Brownings refuse to disclose details of their sales to Kilmarnock FC.

"In the summer of 2015, Brownings opened discussions for an exclusive trademark licence agreement through their solicitors but subsequently, without informing the club, Brownings applied for their own trademark for the 'Killie Pie' name.

"The club has instructed its trademark attorneys, Marks & Clerk, to oppose Brownings' trademark application. The club has also taken expert legal advice and has served notice that all contractual arrangements with Brownings will end on May 31."

Kilmarnock claim they have backed a major expansion of the 'Killie Pie' success story by spending Pounds 20,000 a year on Brownings products, but have been denied details of how much cash the local firm now earns from sales of the product.

Kilmarnock trademarked the 'Killie' name for club merchandise in 1998 and believe Brownings have cashed in on the success of a product once again voted the best in the Premiership in January.

Mr Gall has been a vocal critic of current Kilmarnock secretary and former chairman Michael Johnston and three years ago he chaired an unsuccessful bid by a group of local businesses to oust him.

He added: "I have never had any relationship with Michael and he has taken the huff over this.

"We changed the recipe of the pie and made it the award-winning product it is today."

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