Still another 'Budweiser'

Czech brewery will sell beer from Budweis in shadow of Anheuser-Busch

Sept 19, 2005 - When is a Bud a Bud?


American brewer Anheuser-Busch has long tangled with Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar about which brewery can use the names "Budweiser" and "Bud" in markets around the world.

Budvar avoids the dispute in the United States by selling its beer as Czechvar although it holds to the right to use "Bud" and "Budweiser" in many other countries. Now another "Budweiser" has entered the fray in the United States.

Although Czech brewer Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar says it will avoid a trademark fight by call its beer B.B. Burgerbrau in the U.S., it also makes reference to its Budweis roots in its marketing.

"I don't want to stick my hand in that fire," said Rob Neuner, president of Classic Beverages of Darien, Conn., the U.S. importer of B.B. Burgerbrau. "Budweiser is a trademark of Anheuser-Busch. We don't want to market the beer as Budweiser per se, but we don't see any problem saying the beer is from the town of Budweis."

Labels use the Czech term "Budejovicke Pivo," which means "Budweiser beer," and the brew will offer point-of-sale references to "Czech Budweis City" as the site where the beer is made.

B.B. Burgerbrau was introduced in a handful of U.S. markets this spring. It will arrive in St. Louis, Kansas City and some other Missouri markets this month, Neuner said.

He said B.B. Burgerbrau uses the same recipe of the original beer that dates back two centuries and offers a taste that "bridges the gap" between domestic U.S. beers and more full-bodied imports. "It's very soft, very drinkable, it doesn't fill you up," Neuner said.

Mark Bobak, chief legal officer for Anheuser-Busch, disputed claims that B.B. Burgerbrau was the first to use the Budweiser trademark.

"Anheuser-Busch has no objections to them selling beer in the United States as long as they do not infringe our intellectual property rights," Bobak said in a statement. "The Czech brewer does not have any rights whatsoever to the Budweiser or Bud names in the United States."

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