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For over 100 years, the U.S. beer company Anheuser-Busch and Budejovicky Budvar, a Czech competitor, have been fighting over the use of the trademark “Bud” or “Budweiser”. This contest went to Anheuser-Bush when the General Court of the European Union dismissed Budvar’s claims that Anheuser-Busch should not be able to use the mark “Bud” in certain areas of Europe.
The two companies have had a long rivalry. Anheuser-Busch started brewing Budweiser beer in the United States since the 1870′s, while the Budweiser-Budvar brewery was founded in Czechoslovakia 1886. Over the past 100 years, the companies have engaged in several contests over “Bud” or “Budweiser”, but the latest round went to the King of Beers.
Budvar already has the right to use the name “Budweiser” in several European countries, but claimed it also had the right to use the name “Bud”. In the European Union, the appellation of origin is usually persuasive if a product is associated with a particular region. For example, only wines that come from a certain region of France can be called Champagne, even if they are otherwise identical to wine produced in that region. In this case, the court held that Budvar’s use of “Bud” was insufficient to show the real and actual presence on the market necessary for a right of opposition.
The ruling confirms that Anheuser-Busch’s trademark registration of the name “Bud”, which was filed in 1996, is valid throughout the entire European Union, giving Anheuser-Busch what a company spokesperson called “virtually worldwide protection” for their Budweiser and Bud brands. Despite the ruling, Budvar has not yet conceded defeat. A Budvar spokesperson said “the verdict is not final and we are considering appealing.”
In the meantime, European consumers can rest assured knowing that anywhere that previously had access only to the Czech Bud will soon have access to the American version too.
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