Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar and its Swedish distributors has been forced to pay nearly $100,000 (€94,000) in compensation to US rival Anheuser-Busch in the latest stage of the two companies' ongoing battle over the Budweiser brand name.
The US giant said in a press release that the Swedish courts had supported its claim to the sole rights to the Budweiser name in the Scandinavian country, and that Budejovicky Budvar had to stop using the name Budweiser Budvar or any other name containing the terms Budweiser or Budweis for its beer.
The Czech group was also ordered to pay the substantial sum to compensate the world's biggest brewer for loss of custom and legal costs, AB said.
"This decision confirms our right to the Budweiser name, as several other judgements have done before, and recognises that Budejovicky Budvar has no right to the Budweiser name in Sweden," said Stephen Burrows, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch International.
"We are pleased at the decision because Anheuser-Busch is the brewer which has developed the Budweiser name around the world and which launched the first Budweiser beer in 1876, some 19 years before Budejovicky Budvar was even established and nearly 60 years before the Czech brewer registered the name under any form," Burrows added.
The Swedish ruling does not stop Budejovicky Budvar from selling its beer in Sweden, and it can still continue to use the names Budvar and Budbrau which it uses in other countries (although without the prefix Budweiser, of course).
The two companies have been battling for several years to win the sole rights to the Budweiser name in key global markets, and honours are just about even. Most recently it was the Czech group which triumphed in the UK, where the House of Lords (the country's highest court) rejected an appeal from AB which would have prevented Budvar from using the Budweiser name there.
Anheuser-Busch claims victories in Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Italy, Hungary and Spain, while Budejovicky Budvar has recently won trademark disputes in countries such as Switzerland, Japan and Finland. Both companies claim on their websites to have been victorious in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Sweden, a reflection of just how tortuous the whole affair has become.