Budweiser Budvar has won two lawsuits in Italy

Budweiser Budvar
Známkoprávní spory

Budweiser Budvar has won another two lawsuits defending its “BUDWEISER” trademark in Italy. The company of Anheuser-Busch InBev (hereinafter referred to as “ABI”) was not successful with its legal action brought against Budvar in 2002, seeking a declaration of invalidity of three Budweiser’s Budvar trademarks. The Court of Appeal has now rejected the ABI’s proposal. The Italian Supreme Court ruled in the case initiated in 2001 in favour of Budweiser Budvar, rejecting all the demands of the company of Birra Peroni Industriale S.p.A., which had imported beer of ABI to Italy. In both cases, the rulings were in accordance with the breakthrough decision of the Italian Supreme Court in October 2013, which among other things forbade ABI to use its “BUDWEISER” trademark, declaring the trademark misleading and removing it from the trademark register.

Budweiser Budvar fended off two more attacks on its brand “BUDWEISER” in Italy. This country belongs to traditional outlets of Budvar beer with last-year exports increasing by 14%. “We have won two important lawsuits in which our competing companies wanted to cancel some of our trademarks in Italy. This would obviously complicate selling ‘Budweiser Budvar’ brand beer in a country with a great business potential. The rulings greatly enhance the legal certainty of our trademarks, thus creating a more stable business environment for our importers and their business partners,” says Budweiser Budvar's lawyer Helena Votřelová.

In 2002, ABI filed its first lawsuit against Budweiser Budvar, seeking the invalidity of three trademarks owned by the Czech brewery.  After a hearing at the Court of First Instance and then the Court of Appeal, the case ended up at the Italian Supreme Court. “The court abolished the ruling of the Court of Appeal, returning the case for reconsideration with the fact that it is necessary to respect the opinion of the Supreme Court in another case which ended in 2013. At that time, the Supreme Court forbade ABI to use its “BUDWEISER” trademark, declaring the trademark misleading and removing it from the trademark register. On the grounds that, the Court of Appeal now rejected ABI demands,” Helena Votřelová explains.

Coincidentally, almost at the same time, the Italian Supreme Court ruled in favour of Budweiser Budvar also in a case initiated in 2001. The company of Birra Peroni Industriale S.P.A. (hereinafter referred to as “BPI”), which at the time was the importer of ABI beer to Italy, demanded a declaration of an unfair competition from Budweiser Budvar, cancellation of one of its trademarks and the reimbursement of costs. After judgments in several instances the Supreme Court ultimately rejected all BPI claims. “The final decision is also based on the misleading nature of the ABI’s trademark, which was confirmed by the Italian Supreme Court in 2013,” adds Helena Votřelová.

Legal disputes over the “BUDWEISER” trademark have taken place since 1907, with Budweiser Budvar being substantially the more successful one, having won in about 70% of the cases. During 2000 - 2016, 197 legal disputes and administrative procedures were finalised where 136 of which were won by Budweiser Budvar and 10 finishing in a conciliation or draw. Owing to the registration of the “BUDWEISER” and “BUDWEISER BUDVAR” trademarks that are owned by Budweiser Budvar, the supranational concern ABI cannot use its key “BUDWEISER” trademark in nearly 70 countries.

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