Global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch has been told that it cannot register the name Budweiser as an EU trademark. The decision, in favour of a Czech brewery, is the culmination of more than a decade's legal wrangling.
The American beer has been sold for more than a century
Europe's highest court ruled Thursday that brewing giant Anheuser-Busch could not register "Budweiser" as a trademark for its beer.
The decision was a major a victory for Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar, which already had a prior claim to the name.
"Anheuser-Busch may not register the word 'Budweiser' as a (EU) trademark for beer," the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice said in a statement.
The Czech beer is registered as Budweiser in several states
Multinational Anheuser-Busch applied to register its Budweiser brand, on sale in the United States for more than a century, in 1996.
Budejovicky Budvar challenged the application three years later, arguing that it had already registered the name for its beers in Germany, Austria, Italy and the Benelux countries.
Name describes origins
The name literally means "from Budweis", referring to the German form of the Czech place name Budejkovice.
Budweiser literally means "from the town of Budweis"
In 2005, the EU's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market trademark body (OHIM) ruled that the Czech trademark was valid, meaning Anheuser-Busch could not register Budweiser as an EU brand.
The Court of Justice ruling followed Anheuser-Busch's unsuccessful appeal against OHIM's decision at the European General Court in March 2009. It stated that none of the grounds for the appeal were valid, and that the Czech firm had registered documents correctly.
Anheuser-Busch is based in the US, but is owned by Belgian-Brazilian multinational InBev. The firm can still hold the trademark within individual EU states, rather than across the trading block as a whole.
Author: Richard Connor (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner