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Heineken will never remove its iconic red star: ‘defending it to its core’

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By Jenny Eagle+

29-Mar-2017
Last updated on 29-Mar-2017 at 11:26 GMT2017-03-29T11:26:09Z

The iconic red star logo. Picture: Heineken.
The iconic red star logo. Picture: Heineken.

Heineken says it is in ‘constructive conversations’ with Csiki Brewery in Romania following a long-running trademark dispute and has responded to claims the Hungarian Government will ban its red star logo.

According to reports, the Hungarian Fidesz party of right-wing premier Viktor Orban has allegedly proposed a draft law to outlaw ‘totalitarian’ symbols - merchandise featuring symbols like the Nazi swastika or communist five-pointed red star.

Trademark dispute

However, many believe the bill has little chance of becoming law, with news website Index.hu calling it "a legal quagmire" given the number of big brands using red stars such as Italian mineral water brand San Pellegrino.

There are also reports the move is a tit-for-tat reaction to Heineken winning a trademark dispute earlier this year.

Lixid Project, the holding company behind the Csiki Brewery in Romania lost a lawsuit against Heineken in January because its ‘Real Csíki Beer’ (Csík for Hungarians) had already been registered by Heineken as ‘Csíki Prémium’ in Romania, but the two companies have since come to an agreement.

Heineken is pleased to announce that following constructive conversations with Lixid Project, the holding company behind the Csiki Brewery in Romania, both parties intend to reach a mutually beneficial agreement about the use of the Csiki Sör brand-name in Romania,” a spokesman for Heineken told BeverageDaily.

Heineken and Lixid Project acknowledge the Ciuc and Csiki brand-names can exist next to each other and agree both parties will abandon all legal activities related to the Csiki Sör trademark dispute.

Heineken and Csiki are looking forward to putting their differences behind them and focus on what they do best and enjoy most: brew beer.”

Iconic red star

The spokesman added Heineken recognizes the importance and emotional value of the Csiki brand-name to its brewers and consumers, as well as to its stakeholders in both Romania and Hungary.

Similarly, Heineken will always, everywhere and with all means defend what is at its own core since the early days of the company: the Heineken trademark, including its iconic red star,” he said.

If Viktor Orban’s proposed draft law to outlaw ‘totalitarian’ symbols is approved, anyone in breach of the ruling could risk being fined up to 2 billion forint (€6.5m) and face a two-year jail sentence.

Heineken's trademark red logo first appeared in the 1930s.

When the symbol became associated with communism after World War II, the brewery swapped it for a white star before reverting back to the original following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Heineken insists its logo has "no political meaning whatsoever" and it dates back to medieval European brewers.

"We use the same brand symbols across the world, in every market," the firm said in a statement. "We will closely monitor this local issue and hope this matter will be resolved soon."

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