Bum's Rush for Bud as EU Rules in Favor of Czech Beer Brand

18 December 2008

LUXEMBOURG: Global brewing behemoth Anheuser-Busch has long enjoyed trademark protection throughout the European Union for its famed Bud brand. That cosy condition was upended yesterday by the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance.

Bud's trademark protection had hitherto been challenged without success on several occasions by a relative minnow, Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar based in Ceske Budejovice, a district known to its German-speaking population as Budweis and where beer has been brewed since 1295.

Yesterday's high court ruling held that the EU's trademark agency "made several errors" in previously rejecting arguments by Budejovicky Budvar against Anheuser's trademark application.

The Czech company claimed it had already registered 'Bud' under a 1958 agreement that protected the name as a geographical indicator of origin in France, Austria and the former Czechoslovakia.

That claim was upheld by the Luxembourg court, which ruled that  trademark agency must "take account of earlier rights" protected in member states, adding the agency had "made an error of law" in rejecting the use of the word and signs in the context of a commercial activity.

Anheuser-Busch declined to comment on the outcome of the case, and it is not yet known whether it will appeal the decision.

Data sourced from USA Today/Associated Press; additional content by WARC staff