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Wednesday, 25 March 2009

BREAKING NEWS: CFI ruling in latest BUDWEISER battle

Via the IPKat's Bloomberg friend Stephanie Bodoni comes news that Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has just lost its bid to secure a Community trade mark right to the name Budweiser for beer across the region's 27 nations in its long-running fight with Budejovicky Budvar (Case T-191/07 Anheuser-Busch v OHIM - Budejovicky Budvar (BUDWEISER), still not available on the Curia website at the time this note was posted).  According to information received, 

"The European Court of First Instance ... dismissed the case ..., ruling that Anheuser-Busch's existing rights in some EU countries can't be extended to the entire region because Budvar had the right to use the Budweiser trade mark for alcoholic beverages in Germany and Austria.
... Anheuser-Busch InBev, which in November completed a $52 billion acquisition of Anheuser-Busch ..., owns the rights to Bud or Budweiser in 23 of the EU's 27 nations. Its efforts to get the EU-wide rights have failed in some nations due to Budvar's claims.
...
Anheuser-Busch, which first applied for the EU-wide rights for the Budweiser beer name 13 years ago, took its fight to the region's main appeals court after Europe's trade mark agency in 2007 rejected the company's bid. The decision had been based on largely irrelevant documents by Czech rival Budvar to block the EU right, Anheuser-Busch had argued.
None of Budweiser s existing trade mark rights in Europe will be cancelled by today's ruling...".
Without sight of the decision, the IPKat feels it would be unwise to comment. He suspects though that there might just be an appeal, given the value of a BUDWEISER Community trade mark to Anheuser-Busch and the possibility of the European Court of Justice clarifying the position on the evidential value of advertisements and invoices as proof of use.

Addendum: the full text of the CFI's ruling is now available here

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