BRUSSELS – 29 March 2009
Anheuser-Busch InBev lost a battle for the “Budweiser” name after an EU court rejected its claim to register the word as an exclusive Europe-wide trademark
Read that sentence carefully. I didn't do so upon first glance.
It does not say that Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABIB) has lost the rights to the Budweiser name and logo in Europe.In fact, where ABIB has established trademark protection already, country-by-European country, it retains those rights. Where it hasn't, however, it cannot claim the right.
What ABIB was attempting to do was to establish an exclusive right throughout the European union regardless of individual national judicial decisions. That effort was rejected by the European Court of First Instance, when it upheld a 2007 decision by the EU’s trademark agency.
U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch – now renamed Anheuser-Busch-InBev after a $52 billion takeover by Belgium’s InBev – and smaller Czech rival Budejovicky Budvar NP haggled for years over the name, once also the name of a Czech town famous for its fine beers. <...>
Budvar registered the name as a trademark in 1991 with the EU trademark agency, five years before Anheuser-Busch.
A spokesperson for ABIB stated:
the ruling did not pose problems to the company’s operations in Europe. <...> the company “owns the right” to the Budweiser and Bud trademarks in 23 of 27 EU countries and added the court ruling would not cancel the trademarks in Germany or Austria.
Much smaller Budvar retains the exclusive right to use the brand name Budweiser in France, Austria, and the Czech Republic (and a co-right with ABIB in the UK).
The patina of invincibility has been rubbed off in spots from the former mighty Anheuser-Busch.
March 29, 2009