(CN) – A Czech brewery does not have dibs on calling its beer “Bud,” Europe’s high court ruled Tuesday, remanding a lawsuit over Anheuser-Busch’s registration of the trademark.
Budejovicky Budvar, or Budweiser Budvar Brewery, tried to invalidate the St. Louis, Mo.-based company’s registration of “Bud” in Europe. Anheuser-Busch has filed the trademark four times from 1996 to 2000.
After the European Union’s trademark office rejected attempts by Budvar to oppose Anheuser-Busch’s trademarks, the Czech brewer filed suit before the EU General Court – then known as the Court of First Instance. In 2008, that court said the trademark office had placed too much of a burden on the Czech brewer. Though every European consumer may not identify Bud as coming from the Czech Republic, Budvar adequately claimed that “Bud” was a protected term in France, Italy and Portugal under the 1975 Lisbon agreement.
After Anheuser-Busch appealed, the Court of Justice found that the lower court made several mistakes in its ruling.
Firstly, registration of a mark can only be prevented when the sign is used in trade. Secondly, conflicts over a mark can have to occur in the territory where the mark is used and protected. Thirdly, use of a mark in the space of time between filing for protection and publishing a decision should not count toward establishing ownership, the high court said.
The Court of Justice set aside the General Court’s decision and remanded the case for another round. Both tribunals are located in Luxembourg.
The war over use of the names Bud and Budweiser has been going on for more than a century. At the beginning of the 1900s, the Czech and American breweries agreed that Anheuser-Busch should be able to sell Budweiser beer in North America.
Last year, the Court of Justice ruled against Anheuser-Busch’s Belgium-based parent, AB-InBev, saying the Czech brewer retains the rights to sell its beer under the Budweiser name in Europe.
A 2007 agreement allows the Czech brewer to sell its beer in the United States under the name Czechvar.
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