A top EU legal adviser has come down on the side of Czech brewer Budějovický Budvar in the latest episode in its decades-long battle with American giant Anheuser-Busch over the ‘Budweiser' trade mark.
Anheuser-Busch had sought to invalidate Budvar's concurrent trademark for the ‘Budweiser' name. But the Advocate General (AG) of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) advised the court to rule against the move as part of a non-binding legal opinion on the matter yesterday.
Both companies were given permission by the Court of Appeal to simultaneously register the ‘Budweiser' trade mark in 2000, given their long-standing history of honest co-existence in the UK market. However, in 2005, Anheuser-Busch started legal action to invalidate Budvar's ‘Budweiser' mark on the grounds that their application for the registration of the mark in the UK (1976) predates Budvar's application (1989).
The ECJ's final judgement is expected at a later date.
Marks & Clerk Solicitors acted for Budějovický Budvar. Commenting on the case, partner Kirsten Gilbert said: "We are pleased with the favourable tenor of the AG's opinion. The two brands have co-existed in the UK for decades, differing in image, taste, price and target market. The identical nature of the ‘Budweiser' marks is an honest, historical coincidence, and causes no significant confusion among UK consumers.
"We now await the ECJ's final ruling, in the hope that it will concur with the AG's opinion."
By Neil Gerrard
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