Budweisers Can Coexist in Britain, EU Court Says

     (CN) – Europe’s high court ruled that Czech and American companies can both continue to sell beer under the name “Budweiser” in the United Kingdom. The case is another chapter in a long-brewing rivalry between American and Czech Budweiser beers, which stretches back to the late 1800s.
     American brewer Anheuser-Busch, a company absorbed by transnational drinks giant InBev in 2008, had tried to invalidate a Czech company’s use of the Budweiser mark in the UK.
     Budweiser is a German word indicating origin from a city in former southern Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. Anheuser-Busch, since its U.S. founding in the 1870s, has brewed Budweiser, while Czech brewer Budweiser Budvar has produced its own version of Budweiser for 125 years.
     In Great Britain, both companies marketed Budweiser beer since the 1970s. The American company filed an application in 1979 to register Budweiser as a trademark in the UK. While this was still under consideration, Budvar followed with its own application, 10 years later.
     UK courts ruled in 2000 that both could use the mark, since neither company demonstrated clear seniority on that market.
     But American Budweiser tried to dislodge the Czech company’s use of the mark in 2005, arguing that its application had come first.
     The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union refused Thursday to let American Budweiser annul the Czech company’s use of the mark. Since both companies had used the name for nearly 30 years on the English market in good faith, they should be able to continue to coexist, the ruling states.
     British consumers can clearly distinguish between both Budweisers, as they have distinct tastes, prices and packaging.
     Last year, the court barred Anheuser-Busch from applying a blanket Budweiser trademark in Europe, while a struggle over European use of the beer name “Bud” continues.
     In England, the American-style “King of Beers” is generally cheaper than the Czech lager, which is marketed as “Czechvar” in the United States.

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