Budweiser Budvar Brewery has claimed victory in an important dispute over the “BUDWEISER” trademark in the United Kingdom
In his verdict the judge said:
1) Budweiser Budvar’s appeal is allowed;
2) the verdict of judge Norris of 16.7.2008 (the court of previous instance) is annulled;
3) ABI’s motion to cancel the No. 1,389680 “BUDWEISER” trademark is dismissed;
4) ABI’s appeal is dismissed;
5) ABI shall reimburse Budweiser Budvar's legal costs regarding this case including the interest;
6) the appellate review at the Supreme Court is inadmissible
“Our ‘BUDWEISER’ trademark therefore remains legitimately registered with the British Trademark Register,” says Budweiser Budvar’s lawyer Helena Lejtnarová. “The victory is very important to us from a commercial as well as a legal point of view,” adds Helena Lejtnarová. Following Germany and Slovakia, the United Kingdom represents the third most important export territory for the Budweiser Budvar brand. Customers have perceived this brand very positively, rating it amongst brands with the best image, which has been confirmed by many medals from British beer competitions as well as by the fact that between 2004 and 2006 Budweiser Budvar was selected as the only Czech brand so far for the prestigious list of “Coolbrands“– a list of brands that are ‘in’ in the UK. In 2011, the Budweiser Budvar brand participated in the overall beer export from the Czech Republic to the UK by 38% (source: statistics of the Czech Brewers and Maltsters Association).
The complexity of the dispute is also evident by the Court of Justice of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as CJEU). “Last September, the CJEU ruled that the cancellation of our trademark upon ABI’s reasoning is not possible. Now the British Court of Appeal ruled fully in compliance with the CJEU’s finding. Its ruling in our case can create a precedent for future judgements at courts in similar cases in the whole of the European Union,” explains Helena Lejtnarová.
The recently closed dispute has been ABI’s third attempt since 1970’s to take sole possession of the “BUDWEISER“ trademark in Great Britain. The first dispute regarding using the name of “BUDWEISER” on the British market ended in 1984 by court’s ruling saying that with respect to the decades-long operating of both companies on the market and their identically designated product both companies can use the name of “BUDWEISER“ concurrently.
The second dispute over the registration of the “BUDWEISER” trademark ended in 2000 by ruling of the registrar, who decided that both parties should be entitled to a trademark registration of ”BUDWEISER“ with respect to the previous judgement and to the fact that consumers are capable of safe distinguishing of both products from each other. That resulted in a quite bizarre situation, when an identical trademark was registered by two entities, as the British law overtly allowed a parallel registration of identical or confusingly similar trademarks in the case of honest concurrent use.
In the third (recently closed) dispute ABI demanded the cancellation of the “BUDWEISER“ trademark owned by Budweiser Budvar Brewery.
The worldwide legal disputes over the “BUDWEISER“ trademark have been enduring since 1907, therefore for more than a hundred years. Budweiser Budvar has been highly successful in them, particularly in recent years. In 2000 – 2011, 124 lawsuits and administrative procedures were finalised, with 88 in favour of Budweiser Budvar and 8 ending up by conciliation or a draw. This list has now been joined by yet another victory.