Budvar beats A-B in latest Budweiser battle

Related tags Anheuser busch European union

Small-time Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar has beaten US beer giant
Anheuser Busch for the right to sell its beer under the Budweiser
brand in Cambodia, after winning an appeal in the country's Supreme
Court, reports Chris Mercer.

An original ruling in Cambodia two years ago awarded Anheuser Busch sole rights to the Budweiser tradename, but Budvar appealed against the decision and has now won its case in the Supreme Court.

The ruling means both Anheuser and Budvar can use the Budweiser tradename in Cambodia.

The trademark war between the two firms has been rumbling across the world for decades, yet this latest ruling follows others by South Korea and the European Union last year allowing Budvar to register the Budweiser tradename alongside Anheuser Busch.

The Czech brewer has long argued it has the sole right to the Budweiser name because only its beer is made in the town after which the beer is named. A-B, on the other hand, holds the registered trademark for Budweiser in most countries, and argues that this gives it the sole right to the name.

Budvar, which is still government property and around 100 times smaller than Anheuser Busch, has sought to get round the dispute by applying for greater protection from the EU.

Jan Vesely, the head of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, said the Czech government had proposed a series of quality assurance tests in exchange for a ruling that only the Czech Republic's breweries could use the name 'Czech beer'.

The final proposal, he said, detailed these tests on a number of levels: the beer must be brewed in the country; specific varieties of barley, yeast and hops must be used; it must have characteristic brewing procedures, specifically a slow fermentation under a low temperature; and, the final appearance and taste has to correspond to the understood characteristics of Czech beer. Czech beer is distinctive for its dark golden colour and rich, bitter taste.

The Czech Food and Agricultural Inspectorate would verify these specifications. Beer producers in the Czech Republic would be allowed to make other types of beer but would not be able to call them 'Czech beer'.

"If we get this protection we can use it as a marketing instrument for our beer. Wherever the consumer sees the words 'Czech Beer', it will be an assurance of these characteristics,"​ said Vesely.

Budvar has already begun using the idea to its advantage on foreign markets. The company plans to launch its premium Czechvar beer as a draught on the US market in an attempt to side-step the dispute with Anheuser Busch.

The Czech brewer was banned from using the Budweiser tradename on the North American continent in 1939 but has been exporting and distributing under the Czechvar name since 2002 through US firm Distinguished Brands.

Budvar said Czechvar's North American sales had been better than expected. In its last financial year, the brewer announced total sales worth CZK200 million.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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