The European Union has rejected an attempt by Anheuser-Busch to register its Budweiser name as a single trademark in all 25 EU countries.
In rejecting the St. Louis-based company’s 1996 “community trademark” application, the E.U.’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market said the Budweiser name is identical to one already registered by Czech rival Budejovicky Budvar NP in France and Austria. Anheuser-Busch must instead rely on previously held national trademarks.
“Due to the high similarity of the signs and the identity of the goods, the office concludes that there is likelihood of confusion in France and Austria,” the trademark office said in its June 10 decision.
The battle between A-B and Budejovicky Budvar over the rights to the Budweiser and Bud names continues in about 50 countries around the world. Budvar, based in a town called Ceske Budejovice in Czech and Budweis in German, claims local brewers have used the name for hundreds of years. Anheuser-Busch argues it has used the trademark since 1876, 19 years before Budvar was established.
Anheuser-Busch will have to apply for trademark registration in five of the E.U. nations where it doesn’t already have protection for the Bud or Budweiser names, including the Czech Republic, home of Budejovicky Budvar.
The application for a community trademark was filed “to expand our already extensive rights to Budweiser in the E.U.,” Stephen Burrows, the head of Anheuser-Busch’s international operations, said in a statement.
The E.U. established the community trademark office in 1996. Trademark owners can obtain a single registration covering all E.U. nations, eliminating the need to renew registrations in individual member states. Budvar has a community trademark for the name Budejovicky Budvar.