EU to A-B: No Bud Trademark for You

Decision Will Sting the Brewer Most in Germany

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Anheuser-Busch InBev has lost the latest legal battle in its century-long war with Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar over control of the Budweiser trademark in Europe.

A-B was denied the right to register Budweiser as a trademark across the continent by a European Union court. Both companies are allowed to use the Budweiser or Bud name in 23 of 27 European countries, thanks to local court decisions, but A-B began seeking an EU trademark in 1996. This decision upheld a ruling by a lower court that denied the trademark.

"The Court of First Instance upholds [lower court] OHIM's decision not to register the word 'Budweiser' as a community trademark, [in all of Europe] for beer, for the American brewer, Anheuser-Busch," the court said.

The decision will probably be most felt by A-B in Germany, the largest market where it is not allowed to use the Budweiser name. A-B InBev has pointed to the global expansion of the Budweiser brand as one of the most promising business opportunities presented by the massive 2008 merger that created the company.

A-B has been brewing Budweiser since 1876, nearly two decades before Budvar. But beers from the Czech town formerly known as Budweis, where Budvar was founded, had gone by that name for centuries.

Beer has been brewed in the town since 1265.

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