The Czech brewer of Budvar can continue to use the Budweiser name in the UK following a ruling in Europe’s highest court.
The Court of Justice of the European Union today ruled that Budejovicky Budvar was entitled to use the famous name it shares with the American beer brand, owned by AB InBev.
Judges ruled that UK drinkers were “well aware of the difference” between the two brands and that AB InBev was unlikely to suffer any adverse effect on its business.
“The two brands have co-existed in the UK for decades, differing in taste, price and get-up,” said Mark Blair, the Marks & Clerk partner who represented Budvar. “The identical nature of the Budweiser marks is an honest, historical co-incidence and causes no significant confusion amongst UK consumers.”
The news marks the latest chapter in a long-running battle between Budvar and the world’s largest brewer. AB InBev applied to have Budweiser registered as a trade mark in 1979, with Budvar following suit in 1989. In 2000 domestic courts ruled that both companies could register the name – a ruling challenged five years later when AB InBev sought to have Budvar’s claim made invalid.
Blair added: “This is a strong endorsement of Budvar’s right to the name in the UK. It also sends a clear message that you cannot simply cancel a trade mark that has been used for 30 years in good faith.”
This summer Budvar stirred up the rivalry further by launching a Facebook campaign inviting drinkers to rate the two in a taste test.
A Facebook face-off for battle of the Buds (9 July 2011)
New blow to Anheuser-Busch in Budweiser name battle (26 March 2009)