This week, Europe’s Court of First Instance rejected an earlier ruling by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) by saying that the Budweiser brand can no longer claim right to the trademark ‘Bud’ across all 27 EU member states.
The decision of the court is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga with brewer Budĕjovický Budvar over the seemingly all-important designation ‘Bud’.
Business as usual?
However, Gwendoline Ornigg, spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch InBev, which was formed after the American multinational brewer was acquired by InBev back in July this year, denied the ruling would be a major setback.
“The decision by the Court of First Instance has no effect on Anheuser-Busch InBev's already extensive ‘Bud’ rights throughout the European Union,” stated Ornigg. “It is immaterial to the global Budweiser growth strategy.”
In looking ahead, Ornigg said that the decision would not affect the existing trademark protection it has already obtained in the EU market. Currently 23 member states currently recognize either Budweiser or Bud, the brewer said.
“Our application and registration sought only to further extend these rights and grant additional protections,” she stated.
Anheuser-Busch Inbev will now have to individually apply to copyright the designation in each member state where it is not present. The company added that is was considering whether or not to appeal the decision.
Budvar has long claimed it has the sole right to the Budweiser name because of its origins in the town after which the beer is named.
The OHIM initially rejected these claims though, ruling that ‘Bud’ could not be used in relation to an appellation of origin because Budvar had not proven that it had used the designation in relation to geographical heritage.
In repealing this decision, the Court of First Instance ruled that OHIM had failed to take into account trademark protections granted in Austria and in France to the ‘Bud’ appellation and was not entitled to question how they were classified.