EU court advisor sides with Budvar in Budweiser battle

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A senior legal advisor to the EU has advised the court rules against the attempt of Anheuser-Busch (maker of US Budweiser beer) to invalidate its Czech rival Budějovický Budvar’s trade mark for the Budweiser name.

Both companies were given permission by the Court of Appeal 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 started legal action to invalidate Budvar’s Budweiser mark on the grounds its application for the registration of the mark in the UK (1976) predates Budvar’s application (1989).

The Advocate General (AG) of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has opined the case sides with Budvar. The final judgment – on which the AG’s opinion is non-binding – is expected at a later date.

Marks & Clerk Solicitors LLP acted for the Czech brewer Budějovický Budvar. Kirsten Gilbert, partner, said: “We are pleased with the favourable tenor of the AG’s opinion. 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 dispute between the two brands has been live for decades, culminating in a number of different battles for the Budweiser name across different territories and legal systems.