Anheuser-Busch Ltd. cannot sell beer under the brand name Budweiser in Portugal, the European Court of Human Rights ruled yesterday in the latest round of a global legal battle between the U.S. beer giant and Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar.
Anheuser-Busch was appealing a 2001 decision by Portugal's Supreme Court, which ruled that Budejovicky Budvar had the right to use the brand name under a 1986 treaty between the Czech Republic and Portugal, which protects registered designations of origin.
Anheuser-Busch argued the decision violated its rights to the "peaceful enjoyment" of the trademark and lodged a complaint with the Strasbourg court. It said the Portuguese ruling infringed Article 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees individuals and companies protection of property.
Anheuser-Busch first applied to register Budweiser as a trademark in 1981. After a protracted legal battle, during which Portuguese courts first granted the use of Budweiser to the American company then ruled in favor of the Czechs following their appeal, the case was sent to Strasbourg in June 2001.
The two companies have been battling over Budweiser and other trade names, such as Budvar, for a century. Currently, they are involved in some 40 lawsuits worldwide.
Budejovicky Budvar was founded in 1895 in Ceske Budejovice _ called Budweis by the German-speaking people that populated the area at the time. Beer has been brewed there since 1265.
The founders of Anheuser-Busch used the name Budweiser for their product because it was well-known in their German homeland. The St. Louis brewery got its start in 1852. It began producing Budweiser, America's first national beer brand, in 1876.