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European court rules Anheuser-Busch, must share Budweiser name

Published:  23 September, 2011

Europe's highest court has ruled Anheuser-Busch, maker of US Budweiser beer, must share the 'Budweiser' name in the UK with its Czech rival Bud?jovický Budvar.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled against Anheuser-Busch's latest attempt to deprive Czech rival Bud?jovický Budvar of its right to the 'Budweiser' name.

The dispute between the two brands has been live for decades, and has culminated in a number of different battles for the Budweiser name across different territories and legal systems.

In 2005, Anheuser-Busch began legal action to invalidate Budvar's 'Budweiser' mark on the grounds that their application for the registration of the mark in the UK (1976) predates Budvar's application (1989).

However, both companies were given permission by the Court of Appeal to simultaneously register the 'Budweiser' trade mark in 2000, given their long-standing history of honest co-existence in the UK market.

The Court of Appeal sought clarification from the CJEU, which ruled in Budvar's favour.

Marks & Clerk Solicitors acted for the Czech brewers Bud?jovický Budvar.

Partner, Mark Blair, said: "We are delighted with the CJEU decision, and with having staved off yet another attack on Budvar's 'Budweiser' brand by Anheuser-Busch.

"The two brands have co-existed in the UK for decades, differing in taste, price, and get up.

The identical nature of the 'Budweiser' marks is an honest, historical co-incidence, and causes no significant confusion amongst UK consumers.

"This is effectively a very strong endorsement from the CJEU of Budvar's right to the 'Budweiser' name in the UK, and of the underlying principles of trade mark law in general - it sends a clear message that you cannot simply cancel a trade mark that has been used for thirty plus years in good faith."