German Brewer Accuses Bud of Infringing its Trademark

19 January 2006

US Brewer Anheuser-Busch, notably litigious in defense of its global Budweiser brand, is undergoing the unusual experience of being at the sharp end of a trademark infringement lawsuit.

Plaintiff Bitburger Brauerei, based in the west-German town of Bitburg, has petitioned the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg for an EU-wide annullment of AB's Bud and American Bud trademarks.

The complainant's argument is imaginative to say the least, maintaining that "Budweiser is difficult to pronounce, especially after drinking beer."

Consumers therefore tend to shorten it to 'Bud' ... but when ordering in noisy bars, the use of 'Bud' can lead to confusion over Bitburger's trademark 'Bit', or so claims the out-of-the-box-thinking German brewer.

Or - to politely summarise the case in the light of AB's famously litigious habits - Biter Bud Bitten by Bit. Bitte!

A-B, however, is having none of this fuddled logic. It maintains there is zero risk of confusion between the brands, given that the German pronunciation of 'Bit' and 'Bud' are completely different.

Furthermore, argue its legal eagles, most beer is bought at stores and consumed at home, away from noisy bars where consumers have to shout to order drinks.

A ruling is expected this year. Which is pretty speedy given the torpidity of lawyers and the alcohol content of lager-bier.

Data sourced from (Germany); additional content by WARC staff