Anheuser-Busch has won the latest round in its never-ending series of legal battles with Czech competitor, Budejovicky Budvar. A French court has ruled the American company can sell beer labeled “Bud” in France.
Anheuser-Busch and Budvar are fighting in about 50 countries over the Budweiser and Bud names. Budvar, based in Ceske Budejovice in the Czech Republic and called Budweis in German, says brewers have used the name for hundreds of years. Anheuser-Busch counters that it has used the trademark since 1876, 19 years before Budvar was established.
A court in Strasbourg, France, ruled that Budvar’s use of “Bud” was not protected in France under so-called geographical indication, a sign used to indicate the regional origin of a product, said Manuel Degret, a lawyer representing the Czech brewer. Geographical indications restrict the use of names for products identified with specific places, like Champagne.
“There’s no reason that it should be annulled, and we will appeal,” Degret said.
Anheuser-Busch uses Bud on its beer labels because the Czech brewer has the right to the Budweiser name in France. Anheuser-Busch said that geographical indication protection “should not apply to beer because the quality and characteristics of beer are not affected by where the beer is brewed,” the general counsel, Frank Hellwig, said in a statement.