California Trademark Attorney® Blog

Anheuser-Busch Wins BUD Trademark Battle in the European Union

January 25, 2013

beer-bottle-pouring.jpgCalifornia - Anheuser-Busch InBev NV was granted the trademark BUD to use in conjunction with selling beer in Europe by a European Union court on Tuesday.

The two companies began battling over beer trademarks more than a century ago. Both Anheuser-Busch and Budvar began brewing beers using the name Budweiser in the late 19th century. The name comes from Ceske Budejovice, a town in Czechoslovakia, which is called Budweis in German.

After years of trademark battles, the two companies have been granted a mix of trademark rights around the world. Budvar is required to use Czechvar on its beer in the United States and Canada. In Germany, Austria and other EU nations Anheuser-Busch can only use Bud on its beer. In other countries, such as the United Kingdom, both companies can use the Budweiser name.

Budvar has been challenging the EU trademark office's decision to grant the BUD trademark to Anheuser-Busch. It argued that the trademark is protected by designation of origin, as the name is from the Czech city, and that Anhauser-Busch should not be allowed to use it since it does not make its beer in Ceske Budejovice as Budvar does.
The court ruled that Budvar had only used the designation of origin in a few areas of France and Austria and claimed that the low volume of sales in those areas did not justify blocking Anheuser-Busch's registration.

Anheuser-Busch released a statement that said, "We are extremely pleased to have confirmed our right to a Bud trademark registration valid throughout the entire European Union. This ruling is majorly important in that it will expand our already strong global protections for Bud and Budweiser."

Anheuser-Busch got the news just a week after the U.K. Supreme Court rejected to hear the company's case in which it was attempting to secure exclusive rights to the BUDWEISER trademark in the United Kingdom.

The lower court who initially turned down Anheuser-Busch's request said that the two companies have coexisted for so long in the market and both companies have such high volumes of sales that consumers are accustomed to the two existing together and neither company deserves the name more than the other.