Beer wars continue with Battle of Britain

Dispute between Budvar and Anheuser-Busch continues

Doubtlessly, this legal dispute can be labeled as “never-ending”.

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And the newest battleground in the dispute between Budvar, a Czech brewery, and the US beer giant Anheuser-Busch is Great Britain.

More than 30 years after both firms entered one of the most lucrative beer markets in Europe, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg (EU’s highest court) has to decide which of the two rivals can legally use the world renowned trademark Budweiser in the country.

In 1976, Czech Budvar registered the trademark Bud in the UK. Three years later, the US firm filed a petition for the trademark Budweiser in the same country. Budvar asked for the same mark in 1989.

After a lengthy trial, British authorities ruled in 2000 that both companies can use the trademark.

However, Anheuser-Busch was not happy with the result, and asked the office in 2005 to rule Budvar’s registration invalid.

One day “cheat”

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Importantly, Anheuser-Busch filed the petition one day before the end of a five year-period that started with the decision in 2000. If both firms had used the trademark for five years, according to the EU law it would not be possible to take it away from them. 

The Czech brewery appealed to the British justice, complaining that what its American rival did was a cheat, because with only one day of the period remaining, Budvar could not react.

The British court turned to the European Court of Justice which has to decide whether the US concern’s move was in accord with the European law, given that both companies were using the trademark jointly, for a long time.

Beer saga

The legal war thus rages on, despite the fact that in 2009, the court in Luxembourg ruled that the right to use the trademark in EU belongs to the Czech firm.

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Since 2000, there has been over 100 legal disputes between the two firms. They fight not only over the Budweiser trademark, but also over Bud. According to Budvar, the trademark evokes the place where it is brewed – České Budějovice, Czech Republic. According to the US company, the trademark can equally evoke Budweis, which is the German name of the city.

The brewery in České Budějovice, called Budweiser by German immigrants, was founded in 1895. However, Anheuser-Busch introduced its own trademark Budweiser in the USA in 1876.

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