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A-B Loses a Big One

Apr 1, 2009 - The American brewery giant behind Budweiser beer today lost the latest round in a 100-year old dispute with a tiny Czech rival over the trademark rights to the legendary name. EU judges said the commercial right to use the term "Budweiser" as a Europe-wide trademark already belongs to the small, state-owned Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar.

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Anheuser-Busch, which markets Budweiser and Bud Light beers, six years ago lost a similar fight to stop the Czech company selling beer in the UK under the "Bud" and "Budweiser" trademarks. It has successfully stopped Budvar registering or using the "Budweiser" name in Finland, Spain, Denmark, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

But today the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg delivered another rebuff to the American company, ruling that the EU's trade mark office was right to reject a bid by Anheuser-Busch to register "Budweiser" as an EU trade mark for its beer.

The judges said the commercial right to the word to be used for "beer of any kind" was already held in Germany and Austria by the Czech brewery.

They added that Anheuser-Busch could not register the very same word as an EU trademark for goods described in the court application as "Beer, ale, porter, malted alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages".

The court found the Czech company had proved the validity of its ownership of the trade mark, submitting "Budweiser" advertisements and invoices addressed to customers in Germany and Austria dating back at least five years before Anheuser-Busch applied for an EU trademark for the word.

The Czech brewer has been producing a budweiser beer since 1876 and the Czech city of Ceske Budejovice, where Budvar is located, has also been known through history by its German name, Budweis.


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