An Italian court has banned Anheuser-Busch InBev from using the Budweiser trademark in that country. This is the latest ruling in an ongoing battle regarding the brand name. The state-owned Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar NP has said that they own the trademark and rights to the name.
Budvar has said that the Supreme Court has allowed it to put its Budweiser Budvar lager back out on the market. Budvar director Jiri Bocek has called the ruling “a great victory.” Bocek said that the court declared the use of the Budweiser trademark by AB InBev as deceptive. It has been removed from the trademark register there and Anheuser Busch can no longer use the Budweiser name on products sold in the country.
Adding that the verdicts are final, Bocek said, “Therefore our competitor must stop selling Budweiser beer in Italy.”
Budvar’s Italian lawyer, Stefano de Bosio, has said that the verdict could set precedence for other trademark disputes. This particular case has ruled traditional names are entitled to the same protection and rights as the current official names.
Founded in 1895 and called Budweis at the time, Budvar argues that only beer brewed in its specific part of the Czech Republic can be called Budweiser. The company was founded in the city of Ceske Budejovice.
Budvar said it hopes that the ruling will boost its sales in Italy. Its sales had dropped in 2002 by as much as half after it was forced to sell its beer using the name of Czechvar and later Budejovicky Budvar because of legal action from Anheuser-Busch. In 2001, Italy had become the fifth largest market for Budvar products.
Budvar and Anheuser-Busch have fought over a century regarding the use of the Budweiser brand name. The legal battle did not suffer when Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgian brewer InBev back in 2008. Now, the issue is finally resolved and the rulings of the court are deemed final. From this point on, Budweiser can only be sold by Budvar in Italy.
Anheuser Busch has not yet made a formal public statement regarding the ruling, but has indicated that an announcement will be made later in the afternoon. Analysts have said that this could be a significant blow for the company, as it has done well with beer sales in Italy.
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