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Budweiser v Budweiser: Czech brewer takes another round

The latest round in the long running trademark dispute between Budejovicky Budvar and AB-InBev over the Budweiser name has gone the way of the Czech brewer.
The advocate general of the European Court of Justice advised the court to rule against AB-InBev's attempts to invalidate the Czech brewer's use of the name Budweiser in the UK.
Both companies were given permission to simultaneously register the Budweiser trade mark in 2000, given their long-standing history of honest co-existence in the UK market.
However, in 2005 Anheuser-Busch - since taken over by InBev - started legal action on the grounds that their application for the registration of the mark in the UK (1976) predates Budvar's application (1989).
The advocate general said there was no room in European law for Ab-InBev's argument in European law.
The advocate's opinion, however, is not binding on the court.
The final judgment - on which the AG opinion is non-binding - is expected at a later date.Series of disputes
"We are pleased with the favourable tenor of the AG's opinion," said Kirsten Gilbert of Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP acting for the Czech brewers Budejovick? Budvar.
"The two brands have co-existed in the UK for decades, differing in image, taste, price, and target market.
"The identical nature of the ‘Budweiser' marks is an honest, historical co-incidence, and causes no significant confusion amongst UK consumers.
"We now await the ECJ's final ruling, in the hope that it will concur with the AG's opinion."
The trademark dispute has been rumbling on for years with 115 legal disputes between 2000 and 2009 - 82 in favour of Czech brewer Budvar. There are still 22 disputes in 14 countries that remain unresolved.
4 Feb. 2011

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