AB InBev’s Czech buy to protect Budweiser

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Brussels - A century-long battle over the use of the Budweiser trademark took a new twist yesterday with the purchase of a small Czech brewer by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

The biggest brewer by volume said it had acquired Pivovar Samson, based in the Bohemian town of Ceské Budejovice, known in German as Budweis, the cradle of Budweiser-style beer.

The purchase is the latest chapter in the long war between AB InBev, the maker of the US-brewed Budweiser beer, and Czech state-owned brewer Budejovicky Budvar.

Both companies claim use of the Budweiser trademark, one of the world’s most valuable brand names, and used by both in different markets.

With the purchase, AB InBev hopes to bolster its claim in courts and jurisdictions across the globe where the fight with Budvar has played out for about 100 years.

AB InBev’s Budweiser sells mainly in the Americas and Asia, while the version made by Budvar, the Czech Republic’s fourth-biggest brewer, is sold in several European countries including the Benelux countries, the UK and France.

In 2013, Budvar lost a bid in an EU court to ban AB InBev from using the name globally, a decision the Belgium-based multinational says should end the dispute. But this is unlikely, as Budvar has a good legal record of its own, having won 88 of 124 disputes worldwide between 2000 and 2011, according to the Czech News Agency.

A spokesman said the acquisition of Samson “further strengthens AB InBev’s legal position, particularly as it relates to the Budweiser brand”.

But Petr Samec, a spokesman for Budvar, said that the transaction had “no effect” on the dispute. “The brewery they have bought now didn’t have a single trademark referring to Budweiser, nothing that could affect the relationship to us or the legal dispute.” - Sapa-AFP


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