Beer brewing in Budweis dates back to the 13th century. A few hundred years later, two breweries were founded in the city that made beer which they called "Budweiser," both being beers from the city of Budweis, which was then a part of the Kingdom of Bohemia. In 1876, the American brewer Anheuser-Busch began making a beer which it also called "Budweiser". This led in 1907 to the "Budweiser trademark dispute" between beer companies claiming trademark rights to the name "Budweiser".
The three companies are:
- Budweiser Bier Bürgerbräu (Czech: Budějovický měšťanský pivovar), founded in 1795 by German-speaking citizens of Budweis, which began exporting Budweiser Bier to the United States in 1875. The company was expropriated by the state in 1945, when they changed the name of the company. However, the company reacquired the old naming rights in the 1990s after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia.
- Budweiser (Anheuser-Busch), made by Anheuser-Busch in the United States, was first marketed in 1876 as "Budweiser" in the United States and Canada.
- Budweiser Budvar Brewery (Czech: Budějovický Budvar, národní podnik), a state-owned brewery founded in 1895 by Czech-speaking citizens of Budweis.
Dispute over right to use the name
Anheuser-Busch cites prior registration of the trademark in the United States and battles for the right to use it worldwide in many legal disputes against the Europe-based companies in several countries. The Europeans wish to maintain or regain their right to market their beer under their traditional trademark. Bürgerbräu has marketed its beer as Budweiser Bier since 1876, while Budvar has marketed its product this way since 1895. The two companies in Budweis point out that Budweiser is not a generic name, but refers to a beer actually made in the city.
The existence of several beers with similar names has caused problems in some markets. In 1907, American and Bohemian brewers made an agreement that Anheuser-Busch could market its beer as Budweiser only in North America, while the Bohemian brewers had the rights to the European markets. Anheuser-Busch markets its product as "Bud" (in France and elsewhere) and "Anheuser-Busch B" (in Germany, Austria and Switzerland), where the beer brewed in the original city retains the rights to the name. The United Kingdom and Ireland are some of the few places where both Anheuser-Busch and Budvar beer are sold under the name "Budweiser".
In 2007 Anheuser-Busch signed a deal with Budějovický Budvar, the maker of the Czech Budweiser, to import Budvar Budweiser into the United States and sell it under the name Czechvar. The partnership with AB InBev was terminated in January 2012, and in July of that year, United States Beverage began responsibility for the sales and marketing of Czechvar in the United States.
In 2009 the European Court of First Instance upheld a ruling that refuses AB InBev, owners of the American Budweiser brand, permission to register the Budweiser brand as a community trademark. After the ruling, AB InBev decided to keep the Budweiser or Bud name in 23 of 27 European countries. In Germany, Budvar has exclusive control over the Budweiser brand name since May 2009. In the U.K., courts have ruled that neither company has exclusive rights to the name Budweiser. According to the verdict of Court of Justice of the European Union in July 2010, Budweiser Budvar has exclusive control over the Budweiser brand name in the whole European Union.
According to the British Budweiser Budvar website, "Currently [in 2012] there are about 40 trademark dispute cases pending in different jurisdictions and some 70 procedural issues up for consideration around the world".
Until January 2013, the Czech Budweiser Budvar won 89 of the 124 dealt cases with the American Budweiser (eight ended in a draw or conciliation).
- Harper, Timothy; Oliver, Garrett (1997). The Good Beer Book, p.68. New York: Berkley. ISBN 0-425-15614-1.
- Story of Czechvar Beer at czechvar.com. Note that the web page avoids the words Budvar or Budweis etc. using the abbreviation B.B.N.P. (Budějovický Budvar, národní podnik) as the name of the brewery and České Budějovice as the exclusive name of the city.
- United States Beverage Named New U.S. Importer for Czechvar Beer
- "JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE (First Chamber) 25 March 2009". InfoCuria – Case-law of the Court of Justice. Retrieved 2012-04-12. "In the present case, the Board of Appeal found that the evidence which Budvar produced was clearly sufficient to prove genuine use of the earlier international word mark BUDWEISER (R 238 203). The Board of Appeal referred, in particular, to advertisements showing images of Budvar beer bearing the mark BUDWEISER, to invoices sent to customers in Germany and Austria and to the fact that those advertisements and invoices related to the relevant period."
- Aaron O. Patrick (26 March 2009). "Czech Brewer Wins Suit Over Budweiser Naming Rights". Wall Street Journal.
- Trade Mark decision O/504/01 Intellectual Property Office
- Carey, Susan; Kiviniemi, Peppi (29 July 2010). "EU Rejects Appeal for Bud Trademark". Wall Street Journal.
- Případ uzavřen: Značka Budweiser v EU patří do Českých Budějovic, rozhodl soud (Czech)
- UK Budweiser Budvar website
- Lordi potvrdili práva Budvaru v Británii. Americký rival s požadavky neuspěl (Czech)