23 September 2011

Seeing double…that’ll be the Budweiser

The long running and somewhat legendary dispute spanning almost a century in some parts of the world between AB InBev and Budejovicky Budvar may soon be over in the UK.

Both companies have used and registered the Budweiser trade mark in the UK for many years but AB InBev applied to invalidate Budvar’s registration on the grounds that their application for Budweiser was made first eventhough Budvar started using the mark first.

The Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has ruled that both companies can continue to use the “Budweiser” trade mark in the UK. Both Czech Budvar and American AB InBev have been using and selling their Budweiser beers in the UK for over 30 years. The CJEU said, "United Kingdom consumers are well aware of the difference between Budvar's beers and those of AB InBev, since their tastes, prices and get-ups have always been different" and "both of those companies have from the beginning used their Budweiser trade marks in good faith".

This sends a clear message that where trade marks have co-existed for many years in good faith they should continue to do so. The case will now be returned to the Court of Appeal in the UK which will submit the final verdict taking the CJEU opinion into consideration.

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