Czechs seek labeling protection
Ask trade group for same regional shields as wine
Nov 24, 1999 - Czech officials say they plan to ask the World Trade Organization to create rules that would treat the labeling of beer by geographic origin in the same manner as wine. For instance, under the rules that already protect wines and spirits, only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region in France can be called champagnes.
While they hope to limit the use of "Pilsner" and "Budweiser" labels on beer, they insist they are not seeking to prohibit labeling beers Budweiser or Pilsner-type.
The WTO meets next week in Seattle, and although there is no guarantee the proposal will even be discussed there has been intense lobbying on both sides.
Opponents raised concerns that this could force international lagers brewed in the Pilsner style to stop using the name and give exclusive rights to the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Plzen, known internationally under its German name Pilsen. Should protection be extended in this way, it could also influence the long-running battle over the Budweiser trademark between Anheuser-Busch and the Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar.
Agriculture Ministry spokesman Pavel Kovar said that under the Czech government plan, Anheuser-Busch would still be able to use the "Budweiser" brand in markets where it already has the trademark. But labels claiming "Beer of Budweis" or formulations which would imply that it was actually produced in Ceske Budejovice would be off limits. It would also not affect beers which claim to use the Pilsner or Pils brewing method, but would protect against any claim of being brewed in Pilsen, Kovar said.
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