The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled against Anheuser-Busch's (maker of US Budweiser beer) latest attempt to deprive Czech rival Budějovický Budvar of its right to the Budweiser name in the UK.
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 that their application for the registration of the mark in the UK (1976) predates Budvar's application (1989).
The Court of Appeal sought clarification from the CJEU, which has ruled in Budvar's favour, all but guaranteeing Budvar's right to maintain its Budweiser trade mark registration in the UK.
Marks & Clerk Solicitors acted for the Czech brewers Budějovický Budvar. Mark Blair, partner, said: "We are delighted with the CJEU decision, and with having staved off yet another attack on Budvar's Budweiser brand by Anheuser-Busch. The two brands have co-existed in the UK for decades, differing in taste, price, and get up. The identical nature of the Budweiser marks is an honest, historical co-incidence, and causes no significant confusion among UK consumers.
"This is effectively a very strong endorsement from the CJEU of Budvar's right to the Budweiser name in the UK, and of the underlying principles of trade mark law in general - it sends a clear message that you cannot simply cancel a trade mark that has been used for thirty plus years in good faith."
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. In the UK alone, the case in question is but the latest in a series of legal challenges to the Budvar mark by Anheuser-Busch, all of which have been unsuccessful.
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