Budweiser Budvar has succeeded in three disputes regarding the BUD trademark in Bulgaria
In the most important of the three of them, Budweiser Budvar again defended its rights to the geographical indication BUD against the legal action of its competitor Anheuser-Busch Inbev (hereinafter referred to as “ABI”). Spring 2011 was the second time ABI contested this geographical indication (the first attempt resulted in ABI’s failure in 2006), requiring the revocation of the PGI for BUD. However, the Municipal Court in Sofia returned the legal action as inadmissible, justifying its action with a reason that a Bulgarian court is not authorised to rule about a geographical indication originated in another country. That can be done only by a court authorised in accordance with the place of origin of such an indication, therefore a Czech court in this case. “The Municipal Court in Sofia thus showed its respect to the institute of a geographical indication as well as real knowledge of the points at issue not only from the perspective of its protection but also from the procedural point of view,“ says Budweiser Budvar’s lawyer Helena Lejtnarová.
Retaining the protection for the geographical indication BUD was of key importance for the development of the other two disputes dealt with by the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court. In these disputes, Budweiser Budvar demanded the cancellation of the BUD and AMERICAN BUD trademarks owned by ABI. With regard to the development of the situation in the geographical indication dispute mentioned hereinbefore and also owing to the disuse of these trademarks in the territory of Bulgaria, ABI withdrew its appeal to the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court, making thus the previous decisions of the court of lower instance come into force, which resulted in the expunction of both trademarks. Nonetheless, the BUD trademark disputes in Bulgaria are still not at its end, as Budweiser Budvar has been attempting to expunge the trademarks of AMERICAN BUD and ANHEUSER-BUSCH BUD at the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court.
Bulgaria represents Budweiser Budvar’s traditional export destination, with its potential particularly growing following Bulgaria’s admission to the European Union in 2007. Despite the fact that beer consumption per capita is relatively low there (65 litres per capita p.a. in 2010), the analyses show it should increase by about 15% by 2015. Last year, Budweiser Budvar exported about 1,200 hectolitres of Budweiser Budvar Premium Lager to Bulgaria.