Czech and US ‘Budweiser’ Marks Can Coexist on UK Market

Jul 23 2012 - 15:26

The Court of Appeal of England and Wales ruled on July 3, 2012 that the Czech brewery Budějovický Budvar can continue to use the Budweiser mark on the UK market, thus rejecting the US brewery Anheuser-Busch’s request that Budvar’s Budweiser mark be declared invalid in the UK.

The Court of Appeal allowed both companies to simultaneously register the Budweiser trademark in year 2000. However, Anheuser-Busch filed a lawsuit in 2005, demanding invalidation of Budvar’s Budweiser mark on the grounds that Anheuser-Busch filed an application for registration of the mark in the UK long before Budvar did (Anheuser-Busch filed its application in 1976, while Budvar filed its application in 1989).

The Court of Appeal raised this issue before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU ruled on September 22, 2011 that, although Anheuser-Busch filed its application first, Budvar has been active in the UK market since 1973, a whole year before Anhauser-Busch’s products appeared on the UK market. Thus, the CJEU ruled in favor of the Czech brewery, noting that British beer drinkers were “well aware” of the difference between the two products.

The UK Court of Appeal confirmed the CJEU decision with its ruling on July 3 this year.

“Today’s judgment is confirmation of Budvar’s right to the ‘Budweiser’ name in the UK. It is a further example of how trademark law must be interpreted within its commercial context; that even in cases of so-called ‘double identity’ — where the same mark is used in respect of the same goods — it is still necessary to demonstrate an adverse effect on the ability of the trademark to function as an indication of origin,” Budvar Budějovický attorney Mark Blair noted, the UK website Caterer and Hotelkeeper reports.

Prepared by: Aleksandra Pavlovic

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Source: The Prague Post, English language weekly newspaper; UK hospitality website Caterer and Hotelkeeper

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